Percentage and Earnings of Non-Union Workers in Construction Rose in 2015, While Those of Union Workers Fell
Union representation in the construction industry (covering all occupations) fell from 14.7 percent to 14.0 percent in 2015, according to an annual report recently issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”). The number of union-represented employees in the industry also declined over the year, from 1,023,000 to 992,000. Likewise, both the percentage and number of employees in the industry who were members of a union decreased over the year – from 13.9 percent to 13.2 percent, and from 968,000 to 940,000 people.
Union representation and membership among workers in construction and extraction occupations (whether employed in the construction industry or another industry) also declined in 2015. Union representation declined from 1,167,000 to 1,133,000 employees in such occupations, constituting a decline from 18.8 percent to 18.3 percent. Union membership declined from 1,104,000 to 1,067,000 employees, and from 17.8 percent to 17.2 percent.
Despite these declines, the construction industry continues to be among the private industries with the highest rates of union membership. The industry’s 13.2 percent is outpaced only by the utilities (21.4 percent), transportation and warehousing (18.9 percent), educational services (13.7 percent), and telecommunications (13.3 percent) industries. Union representation across all private-sector industries dropped to just 6.6 percent in 2015. This compares to 35.2 percent in the public sector.
The BLS report also addresses earnings. According to BLS, the median weekly earnings of all employees in the construction industry rose from $775 to $784 in 2015. In 2014, the median weekly earnings rose for both union-affiliated and non-union workers in the industry, with union-affiliated workers’ earnings rising at a higher rate than non-union workers’. However, that was not the case in 2015. The median weekly earnings of non-union workers in the industry increased from $724 to $743 in 2015, while those of union-represented workers in the industry declined from $1,108 to $1,093, and those of union members declined from $1,123 to $1,099. For workers employed in construction and extraction occupations across industries, the median weekly earnings declined among both union and nonunion workers.
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.
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