Today, the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies, the Center for Urban Research, and the NYC Labor Market Information Service released a new study of unionized labor in New York City and State. The report reveals the ways in which the composition of the unionized workforce reflects New York’s complex economic dynamics. The authors draw key distinctions between New York and the rest of the nation to illuminate the reasons why the unionization rate has remained stable despite national de-unionization trends.
New York City has higher union density – 25 percent of the workforce - than any other major U.S. city, and New York State – with density also at 25 percent - ranks first among the 50 states. New York City and State have more than double the national level of union density. And over the past decade, erosion of union membership has been far more limited in New York than has been the case nationally.
The study analyzes the demographics of union membership and its distribution across industries and economic sectors in detail. Key findings include:
· The public sector is far more unionized than the private sector throughout New York and nationally. In New York, the ratio of public-to-private sector union membership is at a record high. However, private-sector union membership in New York has been eroded far less than in the rest of the nation.
· Public sector employees are older, more highly paid, and more educated than workers generally. Women, African Americans, and workers born in Puerto Rico are all overrepresented in the public sector, and largely for this reason have high unionization rates relative to other demographic groups.
· In New York City, the unionized workforce differs from that of the nation in that non-college educated, traditional blue-collar workers remain highly unionized, especially in industries like transit and home health care.
· A majority of New York City’s union members are female, reflecting high union membership in teaching and other educational services, as well as in fields like health care that typically employ women in higher numbers.
· Although recent immigrants have low unionization rates, immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before 1990 have unionization rates as high, or higher than U.S.-born workers.
Ruth Milkman, who co-authored the report, observed, “This is a comprehensive snapshot of union participation in the city and state that highlights the unique dynamics of the New York economy. We hope it will inform policy makers, management and labor alike.”
The report, THE STATE OF THE UNIONS: A PROFILE OF 2009-2010 UNION MEMBERSHIP IN NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK STATE, AND THE USA was written by Ruth Milkman and Laura Braslow. Milkman is Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and Academic Director of the Joseph R. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Braslow is a Ph.D. student in Sociology at the City University of New York Graduate Center and a public policy research consultant. THE STATE OF THE UNIONS is a joint publication of the Murphy Institute, the CUNY Center for Urban Research and the New York City Labor Market Information Service at the CUNY Graduate Center.