Union representation in the construction industry fell from 14.9 percent to 14.7 percent in 2014, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The number of union-represented workers in the industry actually rose over the year (from 967,000 to 1,023,000), but at a lower rate than the rise in the total number of workers employed in the industry (from 6,474,000 to 6,968,000). Likewise, the number of workers in the industry who were members of a union increased over the year (from 915,000 to 968,000) while the percentage fell (from 14.1 percent to 13.9 percent). In 2013, union representation rose in the industry (from 13.7 percent to 14.9 percent) as did union membership (from 13.2 percent to 14.1 percent).
BLS also reports that the percentage of union-represented workers in construction and extraction occupations – whether employed in the construction industry or another industry – declined in both number (from 1,181,000 to 1,167,000) and percentage (from 20.3 percent to 18.8 percent) in 2014. The total number of workers employed in such occupations rose from 5,809,000 to 6,196,000.
The construction industry continues to have one of the highest union representation rates among private industries reported by BLS, exceeded only by the utilities, transportation and warehousing, and telecommunications industries. Union representation across all private-sector industries dropped to 7.4 percent in 2014 from 7.5 percent in 2013, which was an increase from 7.3 percent in 2012. Only 6.6 percent of all employees in the private sector were union members in 2014.
The median weekly earnings of workers in the construction industry rose all around, with union-affiliated workers’ earnings rising at a higher rate than unaffiliated workers’ earnings, BLS data reveal. The median for all workers in the industry, regardless of union affiliation, rose from $762 to $775 in 2014. For union members, it increased from $1,096 to $1,123; for union-represented workers, it increased from $1,081 to $1,108; and for non-union workers, it increased $713 to $724. Earnings likewise rose all around for workers in construction and extraction occupations.
Assessments of BLS industry data should consider that such data cover surveyed employees at all levels and classifications, including personnel that are not typically organized, such as office clerical workers, professional staff, and executives. The data also cover all sectors of the industry, including residential construction.
For the full report from BLS, click here. For additional breakdowns of BLS data on union representation, including industry data broken down by state, click here.