Today, the Center for Economic Policy Research released a report that looks at the wage benefits of unionization. Unlike past studies that looked only nationally and only at the average worker, this study looks at the wage benefits of unionization for workers at different income leves and specifically in North Carolina.
The study found that in North Carolina low and middle-income workers benefit substantially from unionization. For example, workers in the bottom 10 percent of income earners experience a 13.9% wage premium when they are members of union. For workers in the middle (50th percentile) of the income distribution their income is boosted 12% by union membership. In an era of rising costs of basic necessities like housing, child care and transportation workers need to know that they are better off when they band together.
This data should give a boost to the efforts of our friends at the AFL-CIO as they work to increase the number of North Carolina workers who are able to unionize. In doing so, we can help the estimated one-third of working families in our state that do not earn enough to make ends meet. As the Budget & Tax Center has reported before, income inequality is growing in NC. The the wealthiest residents in our state are seeing their incomes grow rapidly while the wages of the middle class struggle to keep pace with inflation. Increased union participation is clearly a powerful tool that can help stem the tide and ensure that all people willing to work hard can provide for themselves and their families.