Utahns don’t exactly look for the union label when choosing their jobs. The Beehive State now has the fifth lowest union membership in the nation.
Only 4.4% of Utah workers — 62,000 out of 1.4 million, or one of every 25 — belong to a union, according to 2019 data released Jan. 22 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That is less than half the national average of 10.3%.
The only states with lower rates than Utah were South Carolina at 2.2%, North Carolina at 2.3% and Texas and Virginia at 4.0%.
Hawaii had the highest union membership rate at 23.5%, followed by New York at 21%.
Utah is one of 26 “right to work” states, which legislate that payment of union dues or fees cannot be a requirement for employment — which weakens unions.
Because of such laws, 5.9% of Utah workers are represented by unions — even though only 4.4% are dues-paying members, according to the new statistics.
The national union membership rate of 10.3% was down from 10.5% in 2018. In 1983, the first year for which comparable union data are available, the union membership rate was 20.1%.
The new data report that the weekly earnings of nonunion workers is only 81% of the wages of union workers: $892 compared to $1,095.
Other highlights from the 2019 data include:
• The union membership rate nationally for government workers (33.6%) continued to be more than five times higher than the rate of private-sector workers (6.2%).
• Within the public sector nationally, the union membership rate was highest in local government (39.4%), which employs many workers in heavily unionized occupations, such as police officers, firefighters, and teachers.
• Private-sector industries with high unionization rates included utilities (23.4%), transportation and warehousing (16.1%) and telecommunications (14.1%).
• Low unionization rates occurred in finance (1.1%), insurance (1.4%), professional and technical services (1.4%), and food services and drinking places (1.4%).
• Men continued to have a higher union membership rate nationally (10.8%) than women (9.7%).
• Black workers continued to have a higher union membership rate nationally in 2019 (11.2%) than workers who were white (10.3%), Asian (8.8%), or Latino (8.9%). However, the rate for black workers declined by 1.3 percentage points over the year, while the rates for other race and ethnicity groups changed little.
• Union membership is highest among workers ages 45-64. In 2019, 12.6% of workers ages 45 to 54 and 12.7% of those ages 55 to 64 were union members.
• Nationally, the union membership rate for full-time workers (11.2%) was about twice the rate for part-time workers (5.5%).