Wisconsin union membership grew by 11,000 in 2017

First increase since 2013

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Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:57 am

Wisconsin unions added 11,000 members in 2017, marking the first increase for organized labor in the state since 2013, according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At 230,000, membership is roughly half what it was in 2000 and is down 146,000 since 2007. About 8.3 percent of employees in the state are union members, compared to 17.8 percent in 2000 and 14.3 percent in 2007.

The increase last year reverses three years of declines that included a particularly sharp drop in 2015, the year Gov. Scott Walker signed right-to-work legislation. Union leaders told BizTimes last year they were adjusting to right-to-work and felt their numbers were staying strong or increasing.

Nationally, the number of union members was up by 262,000 or 1.8 percent, but the percentage of wage and salary workers in a union was unchanged at 10.7 percent.

New Hampshire, Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, Arkansas and Michigan saw the largest increases in membership, up 1.2 to 1.9 percentage points. Missouri, Idaho, Mississippi, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa saw the largest declines, down 1 to 1.9 percentage points.

Legal, installation, maintenance and repair, and health care support occupations saw the biggest gains in union membership. Administrative support, transportation and education occupations saw the biggest declines.

Read more economic data reports at the BizTracker page.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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