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Union membership rises here, declines in neighboring states

Monday, Jan 22, 2018

* From a Rauner campaign TV ad which is no longer airing

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Our economy’s on fire.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens: We’re growing good jobs.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb: And we’re growing union jobs faster than Illinois.

* Politifact looked into Gov. Holcomb’s claim last November

The Rauner campaign said Holcomb’s claim is based on a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report from January 2017 on union employment and membership.

The report shows that from 2015 to 2016 — the first two years Rauner was in office — workers represented by unions in Indiana grew from 319,000 to 335,000, an increase of 5 percent. During that same time, workers represented by unions in Illinois fell by 4 percent, from 892,000 to 856,000. […]

We rate this statement True.

* But new numbers were released Friday

Illinois added 15,000 union members in 2017 while its five bordering states lost 104,000 union members.

New Bureau of Labor Statistics data released last Friday show that Illinois’ unionization rate increased by 0.5 percentage point in 2017. The number of union members in Illinois also increased over the year, from 812,000 to 827,000. At 15.0%, Illinois’ union membership rate now towers over each bordering state. The unionization rate in neighboring states ranges from 7.0% in Iowa to 9.6% in Kentucky.

The data also reveal that Illinois added more union members in 2017 than every bordering state. While the number of union members increased by 15,000 in Illinois, Indiana lost 38,000 members in 2017. Iowa lost 25,000 union members, Kentucky lost 16,000 union members, and Missouri lost 36,000 union members. Wisconsin was Illinois’ only neighbor to see an increase in union members with a gain of just 11,000 members.

Overall, the five states that border Illinois saw a net loss of 104,000 union members in 2017. While Illinois’ unionization rate increased by 0.5 percentage point, the neighboring states’ aggregate unionization rate fell by 1.0 percentage point. The decrease in unionization was largest in Iowa, which experienced a 1.8 percentage-point drop.

The state-by-state BLS data is here.

Illinois’ unionization rate went up for two reasons: 1) 15,000 new union members were added; 2) The total number of employed dropped from 5.587 million in 2016 to 5.516 million in 2017. So, not totally wonderful news.

* More from the BLS

Among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly
earnings of $1,041 in 2017, while those who were not union members had median
weekly earnings of $829. In addition to coverage by a collective bargaining agreement,
this earnings difference reflects a variety of influences, including variations in
the distributions of union members and nonunion employees by occupation, industry,
age, firm size, or geographic region.

* Related…

* How the Right’s War on Unions Is Killing the Democratic Party: In a new study that will soon be released as a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, James Feigenbaum of Boston University, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez of Columbia, and Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institution examined the long-term political consequences of anti-union legislation by comparing counties straddling a state line where one state is right-to-work and another is not. Their findings should strike terror into the hearts of Democratic Party strategists: Right-to-work laws decreased Democratic presidential vote share by 3.5 percent.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

59 Comments
  1. - Downstate - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:37 pm:

    Great motto for getting businesses to expand in Illinois -

    “We are the most unionized state in the Midwest!!!”


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:40 pm:

    –Illinois added 15,000 union members in 2017 while its five bordering states lost 104,000 union members.–

    Thanks, Rauner.


  3. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:42 pm:

    Heckuva job, Raunie.


  4. - Henry Francis - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:46 pm:

    “I’ve been successful at everything I’ve done.”

    Fake Bruce Rauner


  5. - Whatever - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:46 pm:

    Greitens - undermined by scandal.
    Holcomb - undermined by new facts.
    Scott - wait for it!

    Very truly yours, Mike Madigan and the karma he controls.


  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    Labor growth here is Rauner’s legacy.

    The irony is Rauner had control of how he could reduce labor’s importance… then Decatur.

    The mistake that haunts and haunts and haunts.


  7. - RNUG - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Bad news for Rauner and the 1.4%. That means the unionized State they were counting on breaking as part of their national campaign against workers’ rights is backfiring.


  8. - Just Visiting - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:54 pm:

    *Labor growth here is Rauner’s legacy.*

    Right up until the SCOTUS hands down their ruling on Janus. Then his legacy will be of returning some balance of power to Illinois.


  9. - Ron - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:55 pm:

    Is there a break down between public and private unions?


  10. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:56 pm:

    If there are less workers in Ilinois, but more of them are union, this would imply that unionized companies are healthy and growing, and non-unionized companies are sickly and downsizing.


  11. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    –Is there a break down between public and private unions?–

    There used to be, but Rauner brought them back together.


  12. - TaylorvilleTornado - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:57 pm:

    Downstate,

    Right? Those in the working class should know their place. Work and don’t complain.


  13. - Jones - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    That must be why the states around Illinois all have growing economies while Illinois’ is sucking wind. No one in their right mind would open up a new business in Illinois currently with the financial and regulatory shape this state is in.


  14. - NeverPoliticallyCorrect - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 2:59 pm:

    And it explains why the unions will move heaven and earth to prevent right to work. They know that members don’t agree with all the political spending that goes on. They know that if given a choice less people will join unions. Fortunately for Illinois unions the Dems are so tied to union money it is highly unlikely that right to work will prevail here.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:01 pm:

    ===Then his legacy will be of returning some balance of power to Illinois.===

    LOL…

    No, that would be the legacy of SCOTUS.

    Unless Rauner gets appinted to SCOTUS, Rauner will have no impact on something Rauner can’t decide.

    I can hear your mouth-breathing from here, lol


  16. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:02 pm:

    –They know that if given a choice less people will join unions. –

    They have a choice now. And “fewer,” not “less,” in English.


  17. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:03 pm:

    In our consumer economy
    Growth is driven by demand
    Demand is constrained by wages
    Better wages more consumption
    Lesser wages lesser consumption
    Thus
    Growth comes from good wages
    not from an increase in jobs.
    Crap jobs=crap wages=crap growth
    Unions fight for higher wages
    Only the selfish privileged
    Fight to lower wages
    And vigorously engage the
    Perfidy that crap jobs will save us.


  18. - Peoria - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:03 pm:

    So, given a choice, workers will leave unions? Do I have that right?

    Here’s a good headline: Illinois unemployment up, Unions grow stronger

    That should play well.


  19. - Leave a Light on George - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:11 pm:

    Wordslinger, take a crack at grading Honeybear’s poetry will you. It’s beginning to drive me nuts.


  20. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:13 pm:

    I wish I were overjoyed. But not.
    1500 idled workers in Granite. Metropolis may be shuttered forever. Public service union members supporting non-union trades and manufactured goods.


  21. - Nortorious RBG - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:16 pm:

    @NeverPoliticallyCorrect — LOL, people don’t have a choice about joining unions.

    I’m not surprised the numbers have gone up. Once the Turnaround Agenda was announced, most people in our office went to full membership.


  22. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:25 pm:

    I haven’t looked at the 2017 BLS numbers yet, but union members have earned more than nonunion counterparts in 82% of all industries/occupations who reported (the vast majority report). This has consistently been the case for the last two or more years, if I remember correctly.

    If unions didn’t redistribute wealth more toward workers, super-rich conservative corporate types wouldn’t fight so hard to bust them. If it was just about employee First Amendment rights and not wealth redistribution and political policies, the super-rich anti-union people wouldn’t give a rat’s booty about employee freedoms.


  23. - Ron - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:29 pm:

    Less people get jobs in highly unionized locales. Higher unemployment and higher cost of living.


  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:32 pm:

    ==I’m not surprised the numbers have gone up. Once the Turnaround Agenda was announced, most people in our office went to full membership==

    Exactly. What labor statistic does increase in Union membership tie to? Increase in union jobs? On the flip, union membership has been in decline steadily since 1983 nationally. 65% of union jobs are in the private sector anyway.


  25. - Honeybear - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    NPC- did you read the Operating Engineers 150 take on Janus? They have identified some very serious unintended consequences. Janus may overturn Walkers infamous Act 10 and cause a lot of havoc for municipalities.
    Regardless, Rauners attacks on Labor in Illinois
    Has united us like never before.
    The Second Coming of Labor
    Is nigh


  26. - Robert the 1st - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:42 pm:

    =Operating Engineers 150 take on Janus=

    Where did you find this? I’m not getting results on Google.


  27. - Nick Name - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    ===So, given a choice, workers will leave unions? Do I have that right?===

    No. They will join.


  28. - Responsa - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:49 pm:

    LOL people. It’s “less” for things you can’t count like salt and snow. It’s “fewer” for things you can count like people and trees.


  29. - Sue - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:50 pm:

    Honey bear- hear no evil see no evil etc etc. any correlation as to how well our neighbor states are doing in terms of growth employment and new jobs vs Illinois. You need not be very smart to see a correlation between unionization and economic vitality do you?


  30. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    Geez, this guy really can’t do ANYthing right.


  31. - Annonin' - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    Thanks Mike Madigan


  32. - union - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:01 pm:

    Hey Never Correct, union leasers know that we stopped doing a good job communicating with members a long time ago. We know that there has been lots of misunderstanding among members about what their union does and why a union is important. We know that fair share will soon be gone. We know we had to get back to our roots and get out there and talk to the members and the fair share emplpoyees. We started that effort last year and it is ongoing. We know that when you have a one on one conversation with a member or fair share non-member and you listen to their concerns, things change. We know that when they better understand their union, how it fights for them and how they can be involved in positive change, they sign a card. We know that money to Democrats will not save unions. The only thing that will save unions is individuals who want a collective voice standing up for them in the workplace. We know we’re not going away.


  33. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    ===That must be why the states around Illinois all have growing economies while Illinois’ is sucking wind===

    You are apparently illiterate. The trend was reversed with Indiana just last year.


  34. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:24 pm:

    …”growing union jobs faster than Illinois”

    The BLS stats neither support nor disprove the claim as worded.

    Why?

    Because neither the assertion nor the BLS makes no distinction “new jobs created, which are unionized” or merely “existing non-union jobs which have unionized.”

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.


  35. - Anonymous - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    …”growing union jobs faster than Illinois”

    The BLS stats neither support nor disprove the claim as worded.

    Why?

    Because neither the assertion nor the BLS makes any distinction between “new jobs created, which are unionized” or merely “existing non-union jobs which have unionized.”

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics.


  36. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:27 pm:

    –You need not be very smart to see a correlation between unionization and economic vitality do you?–
    Make your case on the economic vitality of Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana…..

    You truly believe there is a simple-minded answer to everything.


  37. - supplied_demand - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:33 pm:

    >union members had median usual weekly earnings of $1,041 in 2017, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $829.

    This stat really says it all about Americans. They see this and think “Union workers should be making less.” instead of how most developed countries see it and think “I should be making more.”


  38. - JS Mill - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:45 pm:

    = You need not be very smart to see a correlation between unionization and economic vitality do you?=

    So..you are saying you aren’t very smart. The first step in fixing a problem is identifying the problem.

    Indiana,Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri continue to fall further behind Illinois in GDP. While there growth percentage may be higher at times (definitely not always) their economies are so tiny that the percentages reflect lower growth in actual dollars.


  39. - Just Visiting - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 4:53 pm:

    =No, that would be the legacy of SCOTUS.=

    OK. Better yet coming from the highest court in the land.


  40. - Jones - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:02 pm:

    Rich Miller

    Doesn’t Indiana have a lower unemployment rate and a better overall state financial situation than Illinois? Continue to gloss over the facts Dembot. Illinois wasn’t even in the running for that Toyota/Mazda plant because of our unionization factor and our lousy state finances.


  41. - Steve - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:06 pm:

    To - Honeybear -

    It appears many high tech workers make big time wages… without a union…


  42. - Sue - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:12 pm:

    JS- take the blinders off. The States you mentioned are all growing both population and jobs far faster then Illinois. What are you possibly talking about ?


  43. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:21 pm:

    Jones. I maintain our work comp causations standards prohibit growth in many sectors. Had Rauner concentrated his efforts on this single issue, I believe he could have eeked out a win that changed the Illinois economic landscape for decades. Instead, he continued to spend recklessly amd waste valuable energy looking to destroy unions when he knew it impossible.


  44. - theCardinal - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:23 pm:

    where are these jobs located ? downstate or is it just in the north? the simple answeris the shops where unions are increased employment. Is American Airlines 700 plus custumer service reps/agents that were not union but now are as result of the US Air merger count in that number. If so no new jobs just new to union.


  45. - Bob In Elgin - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:28 pm:

    Rich -

    Very useful and accessibly presented information that all of us need to know, not just BLS nerds.

    Thank you.


  46. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:31 pm:

    I think this economic boom, both here and abroad,as a direct result of the Trump tax reform, is going to have a very good effect on union membership numbers everywhere. I hope.


  47. - Sue - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:32 pm:

    Blue Dem- yea the Dems and trial lawyers would have given Rauner meaningful workers comp reform had he just given in on his union reform agenda. What planet are you on. Republicans and employers have worked like forever to get real reform always beaten back by the Unions Dems and trial lawyers who run Springfield


  48. - blue dog dem - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 5:35 pm:

    Sue. I respectfully disagree with you on this one.


  49. - wordslinger - Monday, Jan 22, 18 @ 6:43 pm:

    –Illinois wasn’t even in the running for that Toyota/Mazda plant because of our unionization factor and our lousy state finances.–

    Where did you get that?

    Or did you just make it up?

    Post a link where Toyota/Mazda said that.


  50. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 6:43 am:

    Unions alone fight for
    increased
    wages and benefits.

    Only unions fight for salaries to go
    up

    Sue, why do you fight for people to
    make less and have worse health insurance?
    Sue, why do you fight for less?
    Sue you fight for a failed economic theory.
    Supply side, Trickle down, Laffer curve
    mean that all benefit goes to the top.
    Those below get nothing.
    Add to it
    Free Market theories of deregulation
    the works of Hayek, Friedman, Mises
    Again all benefit flows to the top.
    And that’s where we are
    All flowing to the top
    Trumps Tax Reform will gush it to the top
    Economic strip mining of
    Local Economies
    Public revenue and treasuries
    and hard working individuals
    go ahead Sue

    You work hard
    So others….for most
    to make less.

    Go ahead, work for that.
    I’m sticking to the union.
    I’m working for folks to have more.
    to earn more
    to have more security

    Someday soon folks will realize
    what Republicans have done.
    Sold them down the river
    To the large corporations

    Unions alone
    fight for higher wages and benefits.

    Others fight for greed.
    or sit there and let it happen.


  51. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 7:20 am:

    I say
    Fighting
    so hard, so so hard
    for people
    to make less
    So that a tiny group
    can make so much more
    is
    immoral


  52. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 7:39 am:

    Steve….so what
    your comment doesn’t prove that unions aren’t needed.
    As a matter of fact
    there’s currently a huge push by
    CWU to organize those programmers and
    High tech jobs.
    LA Times is different I know
    but they just formed a union.


  53. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 8:04 am:

    I guess some haven’t seen the correlation between the fact that outside of the original Big Three that most of the new automakers plants have been built in RTW states. That is how they say it not in a news release but by their actions.


  54. - Robert the 1st - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 9:37 am:

    =Post a link where Toyota/Mazda said that=

    This weird argument always comes up here. What company is going to step on that political landmine? “Yeah, let’s get a bunch of people to boycott us…” Of course companies downplay RTW and other labor policies in their decision making. Follow the money like Stand Tall says above.


  55. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 10:35 am:

    –This weird argument always comes up here.–

    I’m well aware you consider it “weird” to actually back up a position with facts and reason. So much easier to start with an unsupported conclusion and then just blurt it out the old cake hole.

    As far as “follow the money,” you can compare the two states’ manufacturing sectors with the weird links provided below.

    http://www.nam.org/Data-and-Reports/State-Manufacturing-Data/State-Manufacturing-Data/April-2017/Manufacturing-Facts—Illinois/

    http://www.nam.org/Data-and-Reports/State-Manufacturing-Data/State-Manufacturing-Data/April-2017/Manufacturing-Facts—Alabama/


  56. - Stand Tall - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 11:51 am:

    Your links didn’t work. And the facts are these companies have moved into numerous RTW states. Companies like Caterpillar have for many years moved operations out of the State or outsourced to get away from Unions.


  57. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 23, 18 @ 11:56 am:

    –Your links didn’t work.–

    LOL, don’t try so hard.

    Google National Association of Manufacturers. Look under data & reports. Might take you 20 seconds.


  58. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jan 24, 18 @ 7:30 am:

    Thanks wordslinger for the heads up on the NAM website. Very informative. With an output of 103.76 billion a year, and over half a million employees Illinois is a manufacturing powerhouse.


  59. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jan 24, 18 @ 9:17 am:

    Another thing to consider, what if we got that Toyota/Mazda factory and noone wanted to work there? https://www.npr.org/2017/08/31/547646709/u-s-employers-struggle-to-match-workers-with-open-jobs


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