Fact Sheet | Race and Ethnicity

Who are today’s union workers?: Unionized workers are diverse, and they work in most industries across America

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One in nine workers—15.9 million working women and men in the United States—are represented by a union.1 This makes organized labor one of the largest institutions in America. It is also one of the most diverse, representing workers of all ages, at all levels of education, of diverse races and ethnicities, and across most industries in America.

Altogether, about two-thirds of working people ages 16+ who are covered by a union contract are women and/or people of color.

  • As of 2020, roughly 10.6 million of the 15.9 million workers covered by a union contract are women and/or people of color.
  • Almost half of workers represented by a union are women (47.1%).
  • Nearly four in 10 (37.4%) are African American, Hispanic, AAPI, or other nonwhite workers.
  • Black workers are the most likely to be represented by unions: 13.6% are covered by a collective bargaining agreement, compared with 12.3% of white workers, 11.0% of Hispanic workers, and 10.3% of AAPI workers.

Unions represent workers of all ages, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Union coverage rate by age group, 2020

Age group Union coverage rate
16–24 5.1%
25–34 11.0%
35–44 13.4%
45–54 14.6%
55–64 14.5%
65+ 10.1%
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Note: Union coverage rate refers to the share of workers in each age group who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “Table 1. Union Affiliation of Employed Wage and Salary Workers by Selected Characteristics,” in “Union Membership (Annual) News Release,” January 22, 2021.

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Union workers hail from a variety of sectors, but the biggest share work in education or health services.

  • Nearly three in 10 private-sector workers (27.2%) covered by a union contract work in education or health services.
  • Nearly half of workers (49.7%) covered by a union contract are public-sector workers.
  • Roughly one in seven workers (15.1%) covered by a union contract works in transportation or utilities.
  • Nearly one in six private-sector workers (16.0%) covered by a union contract works in manufacturing.

Unions represent workers at all levels of education.

  • Roughly three in 10 workers (30.3%) ages 16+ and covered by a union contract have a high school or less education.
  • Nearly six in 10 workers (58.4%) covered by a union contract have an associate degree or more education.
  • Close to half (46.5%) have a bachelor’s degree or more education.

Union density varies widely from state to state, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

Union coverage rate by state, 2020

State Union coverage 2020  Category
Hawaii 25.6% High density
New York 23.6% High density
Alaska 19.5% High density
Rhode Island 19.1% High density
Washington 18.6% High density
Connecticut 18.4% High density
New Jersey 17.7% High density
California 17.6% High density
Oregon 17.2% High density
Minnesota 17.0% High density
Maine 16.6% High density
Michigan 16.6% High density
Nevada 15.4% High density
Illinois 15.2% High density
Pennsylvania 14.6% High density
Ohio 14.2% High density
Maryland 14.2% High density
Vermont 13.8% High density
Montana 12.9% Medium density
Massachusetts 12.9% Medium density
West Virginia 11.3% Medium density
Kansas 11.2% Medium density
New Hampshire 11.0% Medium density
Nebraska 10.5% Medium density
Delaware 10.5% Medium density
Wisconsin 10.2% Medium density
Missouri 10.0% Medium density
Indiana 9.6% Medium density
District of Columbia 9.5% Medium density
Kentucky 9.4% Medium density
Wyoming 9.3% Medium density
Iowa 9.1% Medium density
Alabama 8.6% Medium density
New Mexico 8.6% Medium density
Mississippi 8.3% Medium density
Colorado 8.2% Medium density
Florida 7.9% Medium density
Oklahoma 7.6% Medium density
North Dakota 7.4% Medium density
Arizona 7.1% Medium density
Louisiana 6.7% Low density
Georgia 6.5% Low density
Idaho 6.4% Low density
Texas 6.0% Low density
Arkansas 5.9% Low density
South Dakota 5.5% Low density
Virginia 5.4% Low density
Utah 5.4% Low density
Tennessee 5.1% Low density
North Carolina 3.9% Low density
South Carolina 3.8% Low density

 

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The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Note: Union coverage rate refers to the share of workers in each state who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Source: EPI analysis of 2020 Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group (CPS-ORG) data for all workers ages 16 and older.

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Data in this fact sheet come from EPI analysis of 2020 Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group (CPS-ORG) data for all workers ages 16 and older, unless otherwise noted.

Note

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Union Membership Summary (News Release), January 22, 2021.


See related work on Race and Ethnicity | Collective bargaining and right to organize | Unions and Labor Standards