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NC has lowest unionization rate in the country

It’s not all that surprising to find in a new report by the Center for Economic Policy Research that North Carolina is ranked pretty low in the nation for unionization rates. We are a Southern right-to-work state, afterall. But it’s still fairly remarkable that we were beat out by all of our Southern neighbors by sliding in at 50th in the nation, with 4.1% of North Carolina’s employees represented by a union. In Alabama, 10.9% of the total workforce is a member in a union. And of course, at the top end of the spectrum, over a quarter of the workforce is unionized in New York.

But perhaps more importantly, the report analyzes the union advantage—the difference in wages and benefits between non-union workers and those represented in unions.

The report confirms the obvious: that union workers consistently and substantially earn higher wages, are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan than non-union workers. Case in point that in North Carolina the average union worker earns more than $4 per hour than a non-union worker.

The union advantage for the Old North State ends up being:
• 14.8% advantage in wages
• 12.3% more likely to have employer-provided health insurance
• 10.7% more likely to have an employer-provided retirement plan.

A sure sign that policies that ease barriers to unionization in North Carolina and around the country are a critical strategy to growing good quality jobs.

2 Comments


  1. pino

    February 4, 2010 at 11:36 am

    union workers consistently and substantially earn higher wages, are much more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and to have an employer-sponsored retirement plan than non-union workers

    However, this is only good news if you are a union employee. As the cost of buying labor goes up, employers purchase less labor.

  2. Greg

    March 6, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    New York, mentioned as the most heavily unionized in the Union, has an unemployment rate of 8.8%, which 1.6% lower than the national average of 10.4%. Obviously, there are reasons for this other than the proportion of the workforce that is unionized, but it still illustrates the fact that (relatively) high rates of unionization don’t directly translate into more unemployment.

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