* 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.
* 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.