1989 2017 State Private sector State and local government Private sector State and local government Alabama 12.4% 29.6% 5.0% 25.0% Alaska 14.2% 55.7% 9.3% 53.0% Arizona 5.6% 25.2% 2.5% 21.1% Arkansas 9.9% 20.4% 4.8% 12.1% California 14.9% 59.9% 9.2% 61.2% Colorado 7.4% 28.1% 7.9% 24.4% Connecticut 12.9% 68.8% 8.9% 68.3% Delaware 13.0% 42.0% 6.6% 44.6% Florida 4.9% 35.3% 3.4% 28.8% Georgia 8.4% 17.3% 3.2% 13.1% Hawaii 22.2% 76.5% 16.1% 64.3% Idaho 9.2% 20.3% 3.7% 16.6% Illinois 17.9% 50.6% 10.4% 53.6% Indiana 21.3% 28.8% 7.2% 27.8% Iowa 13.9% 39.8% 4.6% 26.6% Kansas 11.7% 23.4% 7.0% 24.0% Kentucky 14.2% 25.0% 10.6% 23.5% Louisiana 7.2% 22.4% 3.6% 12.5% Maine 9.4% 56.2% 6.0% 65.3% Maryland 11.5% 52.8% 5.4% 43.8% Massachusetts 11.5% 65.3% 6.7% 59.0% Michigan 21.4% 63.0% 12.0% 52.0% Minnesota 15.3% 55.9% 9.9% 54.8% Mississippi 7.8% 13.5% 4.8% 13.6% Missouri 14.8% 25.9% 8.2% 20.1% Montana 13.2% 47.1% 6.8% 39.9% Nebraska 10.7% 43.9% 4.7% 32.2% Nevada 16.6% 49.2% 10.6% 45.2% New Hampshire 8.1% 48.5% 5.1% 59.0% New Jersey 18.0% 65.2% 9.2% 66.1% New Mexico 7.8% 16.2% 4.5% 22.2% New York 20.2% 73.1% 16.2% 73.1% North Carolina 4.5% 17.7% 2.7% 10.1% North Dakota 7.9% 33.4% 4.4% 19.6% Ohio 18.3% 51.0% 8.7% 46.9% Oklahoma 7.7% 28.4% 4.3% 18.7% Oregon 17.4% 61.2% 8.8% 57.3% Pennsylvania 18.0% 61.0% 7.9% 57.9% Rhode Island 11.7% 72.7% 9.1% 71.1% South Carolina 3.9% 10.2% 2.3% 10.8% South Dakota 6.0% 35.7% 3.1% 22.8% Tennessee 12.0% 25.7% 4.0% 18.6% Texas 6.2% 19.7% 3.3% 17.4% Utah 7.7% 34.9% 3.3% 14.7% Vermont 7.9% 55.0% 4.7% 53.5% Virginia 8.0% 23.6% 3.0% 17.3% Washington 20.4% 54.7% 13.0% 60.1% Washington D.C. 13.9% 50.1% 6.7% 41.7% West Virginia 19.1% 32.9% 8.1% 29.1% Wisconsin 16.4% 53.0% 7.1% 21.5% Wyoming 11.5% 27.8% 4.7% 13.2%

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group and May Extract microdata

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Union representation by occupation

Figure F shows that education workers make up the single largest occupation group in the unionized state and local government workforce, accounting for about four in 10 (42.8 percent of) state and local government workers represented by a union. This occupation group is primarily made up of public school teachers (but also includes a small share of education administrators). Table 2 shows that teachers also have the second-highest union representation rate among the major occupational groups: About half (51.5 percent) of state and local government teachers are covered by a union contract.

Figure F

Teachers make up the single largest group of state and local government union workers: Each major occupation group’s share of total state and local government union workforce, 2013–2017

Share
Education 42.8%?
Professionals; office and administrative support 15.9%?
Police and other protective services 11.3%?
Health care and social work 9.3%?
Firefighters 3.1%?
All other occupations 17.6%?
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Note:?Calculations made using five years of pooled microdata, 2013–2017.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Table 2

State and local government union representation, by occupation, 2013–2017

Share of occupation’s workforce represented by a union (union representation rate) Occupation’s share of total state and local government union workforce
Education 51.5% 42.8%
Professionals, office, and administrative 29.3% 15.9%
Police and other protective services 49.7% 11.3%
Health care and social work 37.1% 9.3%
Firefighters 66.6% 3.1%
All other occupations 29.2% 17.6%
Total 39.4% 100.0%

Note:?Calculations made using five years of pooled microdata, 2013–2017.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Professionals and office and administrative support workers make up the second largest occupation group in the state and local government union workforce, accounting for 15.9 percent of state and local government workers represented by a union. Almost one-third (29.3 percent) of these workers are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Just under one in 10 (9.3 percent) of unionized state and local government workers are in health care and social work occupations; of these workers, more than one-third (37.1 percent) are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.

Together, police and other protective services workers (11.3 percent) and firefighters (3.1 percent) account for 14.4 percent of the state and local government union workforce. These workers have very high unionization rates: Half (49.7 percent) of police and other protective services workers and two-thirds (66.6 percent) of firefighters are represented by a union.

Demographics of state and local government union workers

The state and local government union workforce has substantially more formal education than the workforce as a whole. Three in five (62.4 percent of) state and local government workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement have at least a four-year college degree and a third (33.8 percent) have an advanced degree (Figure G). By comparison, a third (33.6 percent) of all private-sector workers have at least a college degree and about one in 10 (10.7 percent) have an advanced degree. Just 14.0 percent of all state and local government union workers have only a high school diploma and very few (1.5 percent) have not completed their high school education. In the overall private-sector workforce, 27.7 percent of workers have a high school diploma but have completed no further education, and 9.4 percent have less than a high school diploma.

The majority (58.3 percent) of state and local government workers covered by a collective bargaining contract are women (Figure H). This is a substantially higher share of women than in the private sector overall, where women make up just under half (46.7 percent) of the total workforce.

Workers of color account for nearly one in three (30.9 percent) of the state and local government union workforce (Figure I). As Appendix Figure C shows, that share has grown steadily since 1989, when just one in five (22.0 percent of) state and local government workers represented by a union were not white. The change has been driven primarily by the increasing shares of unionized workers who are Hispanic or Asian American/Pacific Islander. The share of black workers in the state and local government union workforce has declined slightly since 1989 (when it was 14.1 percent), but, at 12.1 percent, remains in line with the share of black workers in the overall private-sector workforce, 11.3 percent.5

Just over one in 10 (11.4 percent) state and local government workers represented by a union are immigrants to the United States (Figure J). As Appendix Figure D shows, this share is up from 6.9 percent in 1994 (the earliest year that the Current Population Survey asked respondents where they were born). State and local government union-represented workers are less likely than workers in the private sector to have immigrated to the United States: In 2017, 19.6 percent of private-sector workers said they were foreign-born.

Appendix Figures A–D provide more details on the change over time in shares of the state and local union workforce and private-sector workforce with given demographic characteristics.

Figure G

Most state and local government union workers have at least a college degree: Share of workforce with given level of educational attainment (state and local government union vs. total private-sector), 2017

Share Less than high school? High school? Some college? College degree? Advanced degree?
State and local government union workforce 1.5% 14.0% 22.1% 28.6% 33.8%
Total private-sector workforce 9.4%? 27.7% 29.3% 22.8% 10.7%
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Note: Shares are by highest level of education attained.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdatata

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Figure H

Most state and local government union workers are women: Share of workforce by gender (state and local government union vs. total private-sector), 2017

Men Women
State and local government union workforce 41.7% 58.3%
Total private-sector workforce 53.3% 46.7%
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Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Figure I

Workers of color make up almost a third of state and local government workers represented by a union: Share of workforce by race and ethnicity (state and local government union vs. private-sector), 2017

White? Black? Hispanic? Asian American/Pacific Islander? Other?
State and local government union workforce 69.1% 12.1% 12.7% 4.3% 1.8%
Total private-sector workforce 61.9% 11.3% 18.0% 6.7% 2.1%
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Note:?Race and ethnicity categories are mutually exclusive: black non-Hispanic, white non-Hispanic, AAPI non-Hispanic, and Hispanic any race.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Figure J

Most union workers in state and local government are U.S.-born: Share of workforce by nativity (state and local government union vs. private-sector), 2017

U.S.-born? Foreign-born?
State and local government union workforce 88.6% 11.4%
Total private-sector workforce 80.4% 19.6%
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Note: The Current Population Survey first asked respondents for their country of origin in 1994.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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Endnotes

1. Celine McNicholas, Zane Mokhiber, and Marni von Wilpert, Janus and Fair Share Fees: The Organizations Financing the Attack on Unions’ Ability to Represent Workers, Economic Policy Institute, February 2018.

2. Of the 6.8 million state and local government workers who are covered by a union contract, 6.2 million are union members (see Figure C in this report).

3. See Gordon Lafer, The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011–2012, Economic Policy Institute, October 2013, and Josh Bivens et al.,?How Today’s Unions Help Working People: Giving Workers the Power to Improve Their Jobs and Unrig the Economy, Economic Policy Institute, August 2017.

4. The data in Figures A, B, and C through 1982 are drawn from Labor Research Association, “U.S. Union Membership: 1948–2004,” LRA Online, 2006. The data in Figures A, B, and C for 1983 to the present are drawn from EPI’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group (CPS-ORG) microdata.

5. See also Celine McNicholas and Janelle Jones, “Black Women Will Be Most Affected by Janus” (Economic Snapshot), Economic Policy Institute, February 13, 2018.

Appendix figures

Appendix Figure A

Share of state and local government union workforce with given level of educational attainment, selected years, 1989–2017

Year Less than high school? High school? Some college? College degree? Advanced degree?
1989 5.5% 23.4%? 19.4% 29.0% 22.7%
2000 2.4% 19.1% 24.4% 28.2% 26.0%
2007 2.0% 17.6% 23.3% 29.1% 28.0%
2017 1.5% 14.0% 22.1% 28.6% 33.8%
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Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group and May Extract microdata

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Appendix Figure B

Share of state and local government union workforce by gender, selected years, 1989–2017

Year Men Women
1989 45.3% 54.7%
2000 41.2% 58.8%
2007 41.5% 58.5%
2017 41.7% 58.3%
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Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group and May Extract microdata

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Appendix Figure C

Share of state and local government union workforce by race/ethnicity, selected years, 1989–2017

Year White? Black? Hispanic? Asian American/Pacific Islander? Other?
1989 78.0% 14.1% 5.1% 2.3% 0.5%
2000 75.5% 13.6% 7.4% 3.0% 0.5%
2007 73.5% 11.9% 9.6% 3.6% 1.5%
2017 69.1% 12.1% 12.7% 4.3% 1.8%
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Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group and May Extract microdata

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Appendix Figure D

Share of state and local government union workforce by nativity, selected years, 1994–2017

Year U.S.-born? Foreign-born?
1994 93.1% 6.9%
2000 92.1% 7.9%
2007 90.8% 9.2%
2017 88.6% 11.4%
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Note: The Current Population Survey first asked respondents for their country of origin in 1994.

Source:?EPI analysis of Current Population Survey Outgoing Rotation Group microdata

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See related work on Collective bargaining and right to organize | Right to work | Public-sector workers | Unions and Labor Standards | African Americans | Asian Americans | Women | Perkins Project | Janus v. AFSCME Council 31

See more work by Julia Wolfe and John Schmitt

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