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The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2009

The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2009

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Over the last quarter century, the unionized workforce has changed dramatically, according to this new CEPR report. In 2008, union workers reflected trends in the workforce as a whole toward a greater share of women, Latinos, Asian Pacific Americans, older, more-educated workers, and a shift out of manufacturing toward services.

"The view that the typical union worker is a white male manufacturing worker may have been correct a quarter of a century ago, but it’s not an accurate description of those in today’s labor movement," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and an author of the report.
Over the last quarter century, the unionized workforce has changed dramatically, according to this new CEPR report. In 2008, union workers reflected trends in the workforce as a whole toward a greater share of women, Latinos, Asian Pacific Americans, older, more-educated workers, and a shift out of manufacturing toward services.

"The view that the typical union worker is a white male manufacturing worker may have been correct a quarter of a century ago, but it’s not an accurate description of those in today’s labor movement," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and an author of the report.

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Published by: Center for Economic and Policy Research on Nov 11, 2009
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The Changing Face of Labor,1983-2008
 
 John Schmitt and Kris Warner
November 2009
Center for Economic and Policy Research
1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 400Washington, D.C. 20009202-293-5380www.cepr.net
 
 
CEPR The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2008
i
 
Contents
Executive Summary.........................................................................................................................................2
 
Introduction......................................................................................................................................................3
 
Unionized Workers Today.............................................................................................................................4
 
Gender..........................................................................................................................................................4
 
Race/Ethnicity.............................................................................................................................................5
 
Race/Ethnicity and Gender.......................................................................................................................8
 
 Age...............................................................................................................................................................11
 
Education...................................................................................................................................................13
 
Immigrant Status.......................................................................................................................................15
 
Manufacturing............................................................................................................................................17
 
Public Sector..............................................................................................................................................18
 
Region.........................................................................................................................................................19
 
Conclusion......................................................................................................................................................22
 
 About the Authors
 John Schmitt is a Senior Economist and Kris Warner is a Program Assistant at the Center forEconomic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.
 Acknowledgements
 The Center for Economic and Policy Research gratefully acknowledges financial support from thePublic Welfare Foundation, the Arca Foundation, and the Ford Foundation.
 
 
CEPR The Changing Face of Labor, 1983-2008
1
 
Executive Summary
Over the last quarter century, the unionized workforce has changed dramatically. In 1983, over half of all union workers were white men, few union workers had a college degree, and almost one-third were in manufacturing.In 2008:
Over 45 percent of unionized workers were women, up from 35 percent in 1983. At currentgrowth rates, women will be the majority of unionized workers before 2020.
Over one-third (37.5 percent) of union workers had a four-year college degree or more, upfrom only one-in-five (20.3 percent) in 1983. Almost half (49.4 percent) of union womenhad at least a four-year college degree.
Only about one-in-ten unionized workers was in manufacturing, down from almost 30percent in 1983.
 Just under half (48.9 percent) of unionized workers were in the public sector, up fromabout one-third (34.4 percent) in 1983. About 61 percent of unionized women are in thepublic sector, compared to about 38 percent for men.
Latinos were 12.2 percent of the unionized workforce, up from 5.8 percent in 1983. AsianPacific Americans were 4.6 percent of union workers, up from 2.5 percent in 1989.
 About one-in-eight (12.6 percent) of union workers was an immigrant, up from one intwelve (8.4 percent) in 1994, the earliest year for which consistent data are available.
Black workers were about 13 percent of the total unionized workforce, a share that has heldfairly steady since 1983, despite a large decline in the representation of whites over the sameperiod.
Unionized workers were most likely to live in the Northeast (27.4 percent), the Midwest(25.7 percent), and the Pacific states (22.7 percent). A smaller share of the unionized workforce lives in the South (18.7 percent) and the West (5.6 percent). Since 2006,unionization rates have been increasing in the Pacific states (up from 17.6 percent in 2006to 19.9 percent in 2008), the Northeast (up from 19.5 percent to 20.3 percent), and the West (up from 10.1 percent to 10.7 percent). Over the same period, unionization rates havebeen basically flat in the Midwest (at about 15.5 percent) and in the South (at 7.0-7.2percent).
 The typical union worker was 45 years old, or about 7 years older than in 1983. (The typicalemployee, regardless of union status, was 41 years old, also about 7 years older than in1983.)

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