Construction Union Density and Weekly Earnings Both Decline in 2010

February 1, 2011
Only 13.7 percent of the 6.103 million workers employed in the construction industry in 2010 were represented by a union, according to data recently issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  This reveals a drop from the 15 percent of 6.613 million construction employees represented by a union in 2009.   The number of union-represented workers in the industry fell from 993,000 in 2009 to 838,000 in 2010.  BLS similarly found that both the number and percentage of workers employed in construction and extraction occupations (as compared to all types of employees working in the industry) declined in 2010. Unions represented 1.1 million workers in construction and extraction occupations last year,  amounting to 19.7 percent of the 5.579 million total number of workers, as compared to 1.269 million workers or 21.8 percent of the 5.82 million total workers in 2009.  Note that the BLS data include residential construction, which is historically far less unionized than other sectors of the industry. Despite the decline in union representation in the industry, construction continues to have one of the highest union membership rates among private industries, exceeded only by the transportation and warehousing, utilities, and telecommunications industries.  Union representation across all private-sector industries fell from 8 percent in 2009 to 7.7 percent in 2010. BLS data further reveal that the median weekly earnings of all full-time workers in the construction industry fell from $744 in 2009 to $735 in 2010.   The median weekly earnings of those workers not represented by a union fell from $698 to $692.  The median weekly earnings of union-represented construction workers fell from $1,052 to $1,046.  This indicates that union-represented workers earned about 51 percent more than nonunion workers, despite similar rates of decreased wages. Click here to access the BLS news release and links to data tables on this topic.
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