Unions decline in state, U.S.

  • Unions decline in state, U.S.

Union membership in Oklahoma dropped slightly in the past two years, from 6.2% of wage and salary workers in 2019 to 6.0% last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The state’s union membership rate peaked in 1990, when it averaged 10.6%, and fell to a low point of 5.4% in 2005 and again in 2016, the bureau reported.

“Nationwide, union members accounted for 10.8% of employed wage and salary workers in 2020, up by 0.5% from 2019,” the BLS said.

Officials said Oklahoma’s membership rates have been below the national average since 1989, when comparable state data became available.

The state had 90,000 union members in 2020. Another 24,000 wage and salary workers were either represented by a union at their main job or were covered by an employee association or contract without being union members.

Nationally, 14.3 million eligible workers belonged to a union in 2020, while 1.7 million workers were not affiliated with a union but held jobs covered by a union contract.

“The number of wage and salary workers belong- ing to unions was down by 321,000, or 2.2%, from 2019,” the bureau said. “However, the decline in total wage and salary employment was 9.6 million (mostly among nonunion workers), or 6.7%.”

The bureau noted that data on union members for 2020 reflected the impact of COVID-19 and efforts to contain the pandemic on the labor market, so comparisons with union membership rates in previous years should be interpreted with caution.