Union Membership, Coverage, Density, and Employment Among
Private Sector Workers, 1973-2017
Year Obs Employment Members Covered %Mem %Cov
1973 40,245 61,886.5 14,954.1 -- 24.2 --
1974 39,422 62,947.5 14,703.8 -- 23.4 --
1975 37,609 61,206.2 13,176.8 -- 21.5 --
1976 38,669 63,848.0 13,613.5 -- 21.3 --
1977 46,052 66,086.4 14,340.5 15,423.5 21.7 23.3
1978 46,470 69,566.3 14,424.7 15,663.1 20.7 22.5
1979 47,018 71,273.1 15,118.0 16,529.5 21.2 23.2
1980 55,246 71,440.7 14,331.6 15,525.7 20.1 21.7
1981 12,637 74,435.5 13,944.4 15,166.6 18.7 20.4
1982 -- -- -- -- -- --
1983 141,311 72,655.7 11,980.2 13,419.9 16.5 18.5
1984 145,104 76,361.4 11,684.0 12,985.6 15.3 17.0
1985 148,185 78,449.2 11,253.0 12,437.5 14.3 15.9
1986 147,678 80,512.0 11,084.7 12,203.9 13.8 15.2
1987 148,698 82,438.4 10,857.3 11,885.2 13.2 14.4
1988 142,409 84,216.8 10,702.4 11,756.3 12.7 14.0
1989 145,372 85,988.9 10,536.2 11,583.1 12.3 13.5
1990 152,197 86,122.5 10,254.8 11,366.4 11.9 13.2
1991 147,112 84,792.8 9,936.5 10,937.8 11.7 12.9
1992 144,911 85,525.4 9,737.2 10,699.5 11.4 12.5
1993 142,859 86,437.9 9,580.3 10,484.0 11.1 12.1
1994 140,651 89,648.6 9,649.4 10,650.6 10.8 11.9
1995 140,723 91,680.5 9,432.1 10,359.8 10.3 11.3
1996 126,229 93,749.9 9,415.0 10,328.4 10.0 11.0
1997 129,035 96,385.8 9,363.3 10,255.0 9.7 10.6
1998 131,129 98,328.9 9,306.1 10,103.6 9.5 10.3
1999 132,817 100,025.4 9,418.6 10,216.0 9.4 10.2
2000 134,554 101,809.9 9,147.7 9,968.5 9.0 9.8
2001 143,041 101,577.3 9,141.3 9,902.7 9.0 9.7
2002 152,871 100,581.4 8,651.5 9,369.7 8.6 9.3
2003 150,050 102,647.6 8,451.8 9,263.7 8.2 9.0
2004 147,496 103,583.6 8,204.5 8,956.2 7.9 8.6
2005 148,598 105,508.4 8,255.0 8,961.6 7.8 8.5
2006 148,602 107,845.6 7,981.3 8,687.7 7.4 8.1
2007 146,614 108,713.8 8,113.6 8,870.0 7.5 8.2
2008 144,506 108,072.6 8,265.2 9,084.4 7.6 8.4
2009 139,413 103,357.3 7,430.8 8,226.1 7.2 8.0
2010 137,980 103,040.4 7,091.9 7,883.6 6.9 7.7
2011 137,410 104,778.4 7,204.5 7,971.9 6.9 7.6
2012 137,861 107,230.2 7,029.9 7.844.3 6.6 7.3
2013 137,988 108,724.3 7,312.7 8,122.1 6.7 7.5
2014 139,486 111,259.5 7,356.0 8,219.3 6.6 7.4
2015 137,826 113,193.2 7,552.4 8,410.1 6.7 7.4
2016 138,525 115,462.2 7,436.2 8,438.1 6.4 7.3
2017 136,904 116,961.4 7,600.2 8,490.9 6.5 7.3
             
Data sources: For the years 1973-81 the May Current Population (CPS). For the years
1983-2017 the CPS Outgoing Rotation Group (ORG) Earnings Files. There were no
union questions in the 1982 CPS. Sample includes wage and salary workers, ages
16 and over. Variable definitions are: Obs=CPS sample size; Employment=wage and
salary employment in thousands, Members=employed workers who are union members
in thousands, Covered=workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement in
thousands, %Mem=percent of employed workers who are union members, and
%Cov=percent of employed workers who are covered by a collective bargaining
agreement. The definition of union membership was expanded in 1977 to include
"employee associations similar to a union".
2018 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson. The use of data requires citation.