- In its annual release on union membership, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of wage and salary construction workers with union membership declined from a little more than 1 million in 2019 to 993,000 in 2020, but the percentage increased slightly from 12.6% to 12.7%. The number of those represented by unions, including those under project labor agreements, was about 1.1 million in 2019 (13.6% of total workers) but decreased to just over 1 million in 2020.
- As part of the report, the BLS also published data on union and nonunion construction wages and their year-over-year changes (see table below). Nonunion median weekly wages in 2019 were $868, almost 29% less than than the average union and union-affiliated wage but increased to $920 in 2020, almost 28% of their union and union-affiliated counterparts.
- Overall, there were fewer total wage and salary union members nationwide in 2020 when compared to 2019 — a decline of 2.2% to 14.3 million — but because of disproportionately larger coronavirus-related layoffs among nonunion workers, the percentage of workers in unions increased slightly by 0.5% to 10.8%. Self-employed workers were excluded from the report.
Union membership in all industries has decreased during the past decade from highs of 14.9% of workers in 2011 to 14.1% for union membership in 2013. However, that could change if President Joe Biden's administration follows through on its promise to create union jobs as part of a proposed $2 trillion infrastructure and energy plan. In addition, while he has not yet been confirmed, Biden has nominated Marty Walsh, former construction union leader and current mayor of Boston, for the position of Labor Secretary.
|Type of worker||2019 weekly salary||2020 weekly salary|
|Covered by a union contract||$1,240||$1,234|
Bolstering the BLS's findings on nonunion wages versus those with union membership or affiliation, at least in the Chicago metro area, was a January report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Collective bargaining agreements, according to the group, were instrumental in securing a typical union journeyworker wages commensurate with those of urban Illinois workers with bachelor's degrees, about $77,300.
The authors of the report also found that the $7.5 billion in wages as a result of CBAs contributed significantly to the local economy, about $2.2 billion in total activity. The study also found that the workers covered by CBAs enjoyed an 11% increase in wages, outpacing the 6% rate of inflation.