Bloomberg by the Numbers: 11.3

Photograph by Jeff Kowalsky/Bloomberg

Michigan lawmakers approved bills to prohibit mandatory union dues in workplaces as thousands of chanting protesters thronged the capitol in Lansing.

That’s the percentage of wage and salary workers who were members of a labor union in 2012, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data released yesterday.

About 14.4 million of 127.6 million such workers belonged to a union last year, BLS data show. The 11.3 percent unionization rate set a record low for the third straight year, falling from 11.8 percent in 2011.

State unionization rates in 2012 generally were correlated with party preference in the November presidential election. President Barack Obama won 22 of the 25 states where at least 10 percent of workers were unionized. Republican challenger Mitt Romney won 21 of the 25 states with a unionization rate below 10 percent.

The most unionized state is New York (23.2 percent), followed by Alaska (22.5 percent), Hawaii (21.6 percent), Washington (18.5 percent) and Rhode Island (17.8 percent).

The least-unionized state is North Carolina (2.9 percent), followed by Arkansas (3.2 percent), South Carolina (3.3 percent), Mississippi (4.3 percent) and Georgia (4.4 percent).

Labor unions give campaign donations overwhelmingly to Democrats, who are more likely than Republicans to side with unions in opposing free-trade pacts and curbs in Medicare spending and supporting higher taxes for wealthy income-earners and an increase in the federal minimum wage.

“Union workers fought political leaders in states such as Wisconsin where Republican Governor Scott Walker supported legislation in 2011 curbing the collective bargaining rights of some public unions,” Bloomberg’s Jim Efstathiou Jr. wrote yesterday. “The law sparked protests outside the state’s Capitol and a 2012 recall election, in which Walker defeated Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a Democrat.”


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