As union membership declines, income inequality increases: Union membership and share of income going to the top 10%, 1917–2021

Union membership rate Share of income going to the top 10%
1917 11.00% 45.0%
1918 12.10% 44.0%
1919 14.30% 45.9%
1920 17.50% 44.1%
1921 17.60% 47.4%
1922 14.00% 46.1%
1923 11.70% 43.7%
1924 11.30% 45.7%
1925 11.00% 47.2%
1926 10.70% 47.6%
1927 10.60% 47.1%
1928 10.40% 48.2%
1929 10.10% 47.0%
1930 10.70% 46.3%
1931 11.20% 46.3%
1932 11.30% 48.3%
1933 9.50% 48.0%
1934 9.80% 49.1%
1935 10.80% 48.1%
1936 11.10% 48.4%
1937 18.60% 47.5%
1938 23.90% 47.1%
1939 24.80% 48.6%
1940 23.50% 48.9%
1941 25.40% 47.0%
1942 24.20% 42.3%
1943 30.10% 38.9%
1944 32.50% 36.1%
1945 33.40% 35.3%
1946 31.90% 37.0%
1947 31.10% 36.9%
1948 30.50% 38.9%
1949 29.60% 38.3%
1950 30.00% 39.1%
1951 32.40% 37.9%
1952 31.50% 36.6%
1953 33.20% 35.7%
1954 32.70% 36.0%
1955 32.90% 36.7%
1956 33.20% 35.7%
1957 32.00% 35.7%
1958 31.10% 35.5%
1959 31.60% 36.0%
1960 30.70% 35.5%
1961 28.70% 35.6%
1962 29.10% 36.2%
1963 28.50% 36.6%
1964 28.50% 37.0%
1965 28.60% 36.7%
1966 28.70% 36.3%
1967 28.60% 35.3%
1968 28.70% 35.5%
1969 28.30% 34.1%
1970 27.90% 33.5%
1971 27.40% 34.1%
1972 27.50% 34.4%
1973 27.10% 34.6%
1974 26.50% 33.6%
1975 25.70% 34.0%
1976 25.70% 33.9%
1977 25.20% 34.3%
1978 24.70% 34.0%
1979 25.40% 34.3%
1980 23.60% 33.9%
1981 22.30% 34.3%
1982 21.60% 34.6%
1983 20.1% 35.3%
1984 18.8% 36.5%
1985 18.0% 36.6%
1986 17.5% 36.3%
1987 17.0% 37.5%
1988 16.8% 39.3%
1989 16.4% 38.8%
1990 16.0% 38.8%
1991 16.0% 38.3%
1992 15.7% 39.4%
1993 15.7% 39.1%
1994 15.5% 39.2%
1995 14.9% 39.9%
1996 14.5% 40.8%
1997 14.1% 41.5%
1998 13.9% 41.9%
1999 13.9% 42.3%
2000 13.4% 42.8%
2001 13.3% 42.0%
2002 13.3% 41.5%
2003 12.9% 41.6%
2004 12.5% 42.4%
2005 12.5% 43.6%
2006 12.0% 44.3%
2007 12.1% 44.0%
2008 12.4% 43.6%
2009 12.3% 42.5%
2010 11.9% 43.9%
2011 11.8% 44.3%
2012 11.3% 45.6%
2013 11.3% 44.9%
2014 11.1% 45.6%
2015 11.1% 45.5%
2016 10.7% 45.3%
2017 10.7% 45.5%
2018 10.5% 45.8%
2019 10.3% 45.7%
2020 10.8% 44.4%
2021 10.3% 45.6%

Source: Data on union membership follow the composite series found in Historical Statistics of the United States through 1982, updated through 2021 using Bureau of Labor Statistics, series ID: LUU0204899600. Income inequality (share of income to top 10%) data are from the World Income Database.

View the underlying data on epi.org.