Effect of union decline on male wage differentials, 1978–2011

1978 1989 2000 2011
Percent of workers in union (“union coverage”)
By occupation White collar 14.7% 12.1% 11.2% 10.3%
Blue collar 43.1% 28.9% 23.1% 17.8%
Difference -28.4 -16.7 -11.9 -7.5
By education College 14.3% 11.9% 13.1% 12.1%
High school 37.9% 25.5% 20.4% 14.9%
Difference -23.6 -13.6 -7.4 -2.9
Union wage effect*
By occupation White collar 0.2% 0.0% -0.2% -0.2%
Blue collar 11.5% 6.7% 4.3% 3.5%
Difference (change in
differential)
-11.3 -6.8 -4.5 -3.6
By education College 0.9% 0.5% 0.9% 0.6%
High school 8.2% 5.5% 3.1% 2.6%
Difference (change in
differential)
-7.3 -5.0 -2.3 -2.0
1978–1989 1989–2000 2000–2011 1978–2011
Change in wage
differential**
White-collar/blue-collar 5.0 4.2 0.9 10.1
College/high school 13.0 8.0 2.8 23.9
Change in union wage effect White-collar/blue-collar -4.6 -2.3 -0.9 -7.7
College/high school -2.3 -2.5 -0.3 -5.1
Deunionization
contribution to change in wage
differential***
White-collar/blue-collar -90.5% -55.2% -91.8% -76.1%
College/high school -17.8 -30.7 -10.2 -21.2

* Union wage effect is "union wage premium" (estimated with simple human capital model plus industry and occupational controls) times union coverage; negative values in the difference row show how much unionization narrowed the wage gaps.

** Log wage gaps estimated with a simple human capital model

*** Change in union wage effect on wage differential divided by overall change in differential

Source: Author's update of Freeman (1991) using Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

View the underlying data on epi.org.