Study: Unions Boost Wages, Benefits

March 2010

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A new report released Feb. 3 by the Center for Economic and Policy Research pinpoints unionization rates, the size and composition of the unionized workforce and the wages and benefits for union workers in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“The union presence varies across states,” said John Schmitt, the author of the report, “but unions substantially raise wages and benefits for workers in every state.”

The study, “The Unions of the States,” found that in the typical state, unionization is associated with a 15 percent increase in hourly wages.

Unionization, according to the report, is also associated with a 19-percentagepoint increase in the likelihood of having employer-provided health insurance and a 24-percentage-point increase in the likelihood of having employer-sponsored retirement plans.

Specifically, the study found that: Unionization rates vary substantially across the states, from below 5 percent of the overall workforce in South Carolina and North Carolina, to more than 25 percent in New York and Hawaii.

The rate in the states right in the middle with respect to unionization is 12.6 percent (the rate in Missouri and Vermont).

The absolute number of union workers in each state also varied greatly in 2009, from just 20,000 in Wyoming to about 2.6 million in California.

Across all the states, unionization is strongly associated with increases in overall compensation (measured by hourly wages and health and pension benefit coverage).

The report used data from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) covering the period 2003-2009. In addition to information regarding wage and benefit increases, the study also provides a detailed presentation of the demographic characteristics of each state’s workforce, including the share of each state’s unionized and non-unionized workforce by gender, racial and ethnic composition.

Additionally, the levels of education of unionized and non-unionized workforce are provided.

A full copy of “The Unions of the States,” can be retrieved by visiting:

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