The New York Times
Friday, February 4, 2011
The New York Times
New York and New Jersey may have stopped shedding jobs in 2010, but their labor unions have not, a report released Thursday by the federal Department of Labor shows.
That decline translated to a loss of almost 85,000 union jobs in New Jersey, where state and local governments have been laying off workers. New York lost about 60,000 union jobs last year, the bureau reported.
Workers were still much more likely to be members of unions in the two states than in most others.
Despite the drop, New York remains the most highly unionized state in the nation. New Jersey is ranked sixth, also behind Alaska, Hawaii, Washington and California. California, where union membership rose to 17.5 percent from 17.2 percent in 2009, moved above New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan and Rhode Island last year.
In 2010, 31 states and the District of Columbia had union membership rates below the U.S. average,11.9 percent, while 19 had higher rates. (See table 1.)
All states in the Middle Atlantic (which includesNew York and New Jersey) and Pacific divisions reported union membership rates above the national average, and all states in the East South Central and West South Central divisions had rates below it.(See chart 2.)
Union membership rates declined over the year in 33 states (including New York andNew Jersey) and the District of Columbia and rose in 17 states.
Three states had union membership rates above 20 percent in 2010. New York had the highest rate,followed by Alaska (22.9 percent) and Hawaii (21.8 percent).
In fact, New York has had the highest membership rate in the nation for 14 of the past 16 years.
Eight states had union membership ratesbelow 5.0 percent, with North Carolina having the lowest, 3.2 percent. The next lowest rates were recorded in Arkansas and Georgia (4.0 percent each), Louisiana (4.3 percent), Mississippi (4.5 percent),South Carolina and Virginia (4.6 percent each), and Tennessee (4.7 percent).
About half of the 14.7 million union members in the United States lived in just six states (California, 2.4 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois and Pennsylvania, 0.8 million each; Ohio, 0.7 million; and NewJersey, 0.6 million), though these states accounted for only one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.
State union membership levels depend on both the union membership rate and the employment level. For example, despite having 1.9 million fewer wage and salary employees statewide, New York had four times as many union members as Texas. Similarly, New Jersey, with 58,000 fewer wage and salary employees, had over four times as many union members as Georgia.
Posted by Robert Daraio at 10:41 AM