picket.jpgIt’s way tiny. Really small. But it was an increase.

Yes, union membership in the United States actually rose slightly last year. This is a big deal because for decades now unions have been shrinking like those Shrinky Dinks we used to play with when we were kids.

Here are the numbers from the U.S. Department of Labor:

In 2007, the number of workers belonging to a union rose by 311,000 to
15.7 million, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today.  Union members accounted for 12.1 percent of employed wage
and salary workers, essentially unchanged from 12.0 percent in 2006.  In
1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the
union membership rate was 20.1 percent.  Some highlights from the 2007
data are:

--Workers in the public sector had a union membership rate nearly five
times that of private sector employees.

--Education, training, and library occupations had the highest unioniz-
ation rate among all occupations, at 37.2 percent, followed closely
by protective service occupations at 35.2 percent.

--Among demographic groups, the union membership rate was highest for
black men and lowest for Hispanic women.

--Wage and salary workers ages 45 to 54 (15.7 percent) and ages 55 to
64 (16.1 percent) were more likely to be union members than were
workers ages 16 to 24 (4.8 percent).

It’s hard to say what’s going on but I’ll have some analysis for you guys later in the day when economists begin to wake up and I can get them on the phone.

Unions have been going into overdrive these past few years trying to recruit more members. And, the disparity among pay between the rank and file and the top dogs at companies has been exploding.

Maybe the combination has created a perfect storm for unions in this country. Only time will tell if this slight increase is a blip or the sign of things to come.

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