Across the United States, union membership rates hit a record low in 2022 of 10.1%, a 0.2% decrease from 2021. With a disproportionate increase in the number of wage and salary workers overall, union membership rates suffered the consequence despite some growth throughout the year.
Nonetheless, this decline isn’t new nor sudden. These rates are part of a downward trend spanning the past 40 years–not a reflection of Ohio’s union membership growth–as reported by the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics in the new year.
An analysis of BLS data by the Economic Policy Institute in Washington D.C. shows that Ohio saw the third largest increase in union membership nationally. A total of about 699,000 Ohio workers were union members in 2022, an increase of 52,000 workers from 2021. The only states to trudge ahead in gains were California, with a 99,000 worker increase, and Texas, with a 72,000 worker increase.
Ohio union membership growth in 2022 managed a similar momentum to that of the two most populous states in the country, 12.8% of Ohio workers belonged to unions in 2022, a 0.8% increase from 2021.
The percentage of unionized workers in Ohio continues to outweigh the national average and has been doing so since 1989, when comparable state data first became available. 1989 also saw Ohio’s peak in union membership rates, when it averaged 21.3%.
In fact, even when Ohio hit a record low of 11.9% in 2019, the national percentage still lagged far behind at 10.3%.
“This report confirms what many of us have known for a long time: that more and more workers want to join a union and are resilient in their fight to do so,” Dan O’Malley, who heads the North Shore AFL-CIO Federation of Labor, said in an email to Signal Cleveland.
The AFL-CIO defines unions as “teams of individuals coming together to guarantee the things you care about like decent wages, affordable health care, job security, safe and respectful workplaces, and fair scheduling.”
A surge in demand for union representation across the country has become increasingly apparent in recent times as pandemic restrictions have relaxed. Workers are taking advantage of labor shortages to seek higher pay, benefits and better treatment from their employees.
Union members, on average, are paid higher than their nonunion counterparts. While the median weekly wage for union members in the United States in 2022 was $1,216, nonunion workers lagged behind at about $1,029.