US Union Membership Hits Record Low in 2023, Despite Increase in Strikes


  • The rate of union membership in the United States experienced a decline to 10.0% in 2022 according to the Labor Department’s annual census of the organized labor landscape.
  • The number of union members has seen an increase for the second year, however, overall employment growth in wage and salary workers led to a further decline in membership rate.
  • Union membership rates have been falling steadily since the 1970s, and currently stand at less than a third of the peak rate in the 1950s which was over 30%.
  • President Joe Biden has previously shown support for union efforts, particularly by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to unionize companies such as Tesla (NASDAQ:) and Toyota (NYSE:).
  • Strikes and labor walkouts increased last year, making it the most active year for organized labor walkouts since 2000.

Sharp Decline in Union Membership Rate

According to the Labor Department’s annual census of the U.S. organized labor landscape, the rate of union membership dropped to a record-low 10.0% in 2022. Despite an increase in the amount of union workers for a second year in a row, the jump in overall wage and salary employment led to a further fractional decline in the membership rate.

Comparison of Membership Rates across Sectors

The membership rate in the private sector remained static at 6%, equalling the lowest record. The union membership rate for government workers, which is significantly higher, fell to 32.5% from 33.1% in 2022. This is the lowest rate ever recorded for this sector.

The decrease in union membership has been continuous since the 1970s and is currently below a third of the high point in the 1950s. Despite this, unions still hold significant political influence, particularly within states crucial to the outcome of the upcoming presidential election such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Increasing Activity in Union Strikes

2022 was the most active year for organized labor walkouts in over 20 years, with 36 strikes involving more than 1,000 workers, the highest number since 2000. Hollywood figures and hotel workers in Los Angeles also participated in various work stoppages.

The UAW’s endorsement for the Presidential candidate has not yet been given, despite President Joe Biden actively showing support to their unionization efforts against automakers such as Tesla (NASDAQ:) and Toyota (NYSE:).

Impact on Forex & Market

The changing dynamics of union memberships and ongoing labor strikes may potentially sway certain state votes and policy regulations, affecting market stability and forex rates in the trading sphere.

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