Union membership falls to record low in 2023 despite headline-grabbing year

The share of workers in the United States who are union members dropped to 10% in 2023, a record low, even as organized labor received outsize attention.

The decline was a subtle drop from the year before, when union membership sat at 10.1%. The total number of wage and salary workers belonging to unions in 2023 was 14.4 million, according to data released on Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That marks a significant decline from 1983, when data for the statistic first became available. Then, more than 40 years ago, the union membership rate sat at over 20% of workers in the U.S.

The latest numbers show that the membership rate of public-sector employees was five times higher (32.5%) than the 6% membership rate among private-sector workers.

The new record may be a bit surprising, given the splashy year that unions have had.

The United Auto Workers
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