15 states with the highest union participation

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on HireAHelper.

In some ways today’s U.S. economy offers workers the most favorable conditions in years. Unemployment has rebounded from a pandemic-induced surge in 2020 and is now at its lowest level in 20 years. At the same time, the wave of departures and job transitions now dubbed “The Great Resignation” shows that workers are looking for a better life job.

To recruit and retain employees in a tight labor market, employers are raising wages and offering better benefits and flexible work arrangements.

Under these labor-friendly conditions, another historical source of worker power may be making a comeback: unions.

Recent union activity at major U.S. employers such as Starbucks and Amazon has made headlines. Meanwhile, Congress is currently considering the PRO Bill, a major piece of legislation aimed at strengthening unions.

Support for unions is equally prevalent among the general population; most Americans believe declining union membership is bad for the state, with petitions for national union elections increasing 57 percent from 2021 to 2022, according to the National Labor Relations Board .

HireAHelper researchers calculated the percentage of workers who are union members by looking at data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Current Population Survey.

Here are the states with the highest union participation rates.

15. Maine

Portland, Maine
Sean Pavo/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 12.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 14.7%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 70,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 83,000

14. Massachusetts

Springfield, Massachusetts
Sean Pavo/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 12.6%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 13.6%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 402,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 433,000

13. Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Jon Bilos/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 12.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 13.6%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 693,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 732,000

12. Michigan

Wayne County, Michigan
Sean Pavo/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 13.3%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 15.3%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 540,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 620,000

11. Illinois

Cook County, Illinois
Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 13.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 15.2%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 752,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 818,000

10. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut
Sean Pavo/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 14.6%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 16.3%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 223,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 248,000

9. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 15.7%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.4%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 75,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 83,000

8. Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
Rocky Grimes / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 15.8%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.2%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 46,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 50,000

7. California

Santa Monica, California
Natalia Maceda / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 15.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.8%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 2,468,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 2,757,000

6. Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota
IMG_191 / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 16.0%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.1%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 416,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 446,000

5. New Jersey

Trenton, NJ
FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 16.2%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.9%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 608,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 672,000

4. Oregon

Willamette River Bridge, Oregon
JPL Design/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 17.8%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 18.8%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 318,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 336,000

3. Washington

Bremerton, Washington
Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 19.0%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 20.0%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 629,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 661,000

2. New York

Syracuse, New York
Paul Brady Photography/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 22.2%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 24.1%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 1,729,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 1,869,000

1. Hawaii

near Honolulu
True Window Ideas/Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of workers who are union members: 22.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 24.1%
  • Total number of workers who are union members: 121,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 131,000

method

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

The data used in this analysis comes from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2021 Current Population Survey. To identify the states with the highest rates of union participation, the researchers calculated the percentage of workers who were union members. In the event of a tie, states with a higher proportion of workers represented by unions rank higher. For clarification, “union-represented workers” includes both union members who have the right to vote on union affairs, as well as workers who report that they do not belong to a union but whose jobs are covered by a union contract.

Only the 100 largest metropolitan areas for which data are available are considered for this analysis.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click on a link in our story.

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