Jan 31, 2012 8:36 AM GMT
The most significant number in the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics release on unionization is probably this: Only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are in unions. That’s the same percent as last year. In the middle of the 20th century, it was 35%. … The number is significant because it suggests that labor’s much-publicized private sector organizing drives have failed. They appeared to be meeting with some success a few years ago–the private sector rate actually rose from 7.4% to 7.6% between 2006 and 2008. Those union gains have now apparently been lost, and the private sector unionization rate again asymptotically approaches zero. … Are Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB labor’s last hurrah? … P.S.: You wouldn’t learn the private sector trend reading mainstream accounts. The NYT‘s Steven Greenhouse, for example, reported an overall decline in unionization but suggested that private sector gains were counterbalanced by public sector declines. That’s true only if you look at the absolute numbers–the total number of workers in the economy having gone up–not the percentages. The BLS buried the recent years’ rates in its tables.