15 States with the Highest Union Participation Rates

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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Hire an assistant.

The American economy today, in some respects, offers the most favorable conditions workers have had in years. The unemployment rate is as low as it has been in two decades, having rebounded from a pandemic-induced peak in 2020. Simultaneously, the wave of departures and job changes now known as the Big resignation suggests that workers are looking for better jobs.

Recruit and retain employees in a tight labor market, employers increase wages and provide better benefits and flexible work arrangements.

Amid these pro-worker conditions, another historic source of worker power may be making a comeback: unions.

Recent labor campaigns at major U.S. employers such as Starbucks and Amazon made the headlines. Meanwhile, Congress is currently considering the PRO Lawa major piece of legislation aimed at strengthening unions.

Support for unions is also widespread among the general population; a majority of Americans believes that declining union membership has been bad for the country and, according to the National Labor Relations Council, petitions for union elections across the country increased by 57% from 2021 to 2022.

HireAHelper researchers calculated the percentage of unionized workers by examining data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Current Population Survey 2021.

Here are the states with the highest union participation rates.

15. Maine

Portland, Maine
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 12.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 14.7%
  • Total unionized workers: 70,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 83,000

14. Massachusetts

Springfield, MA
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 12.6%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 13.6%
  • Total unionized workers: 402,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 433,000

13. Pennsylvania

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 12.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 13.6%
  • Total unionized workers: 693,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 732,000

12.Michigan

Wayne County, Michigan
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 13.3%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 15.3%
  • Total unionized workers: 540,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 620,000

11. Illinois

Cook County Illinois
Nina Alizada / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 13.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 15.2%
  • Total unionized workers: 752,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 818,000

10. Connecticut

Hartford, Connecticut
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 14.6%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 16.3%
  • Total unionized workers: 223,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 248,000

9. Rhode Island

Providence, Rhode Island
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 15.7%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.4%
  • Total unionized workers: 75,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 83,000

8.Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 15.8%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.2%
  • Total unionized workers: 46,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 50,000

7. California

Santa Monica, California
Natalia Macheda / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 15.9%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.8%
  • Total unionized workers: 2,468,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 2,757,000

6.Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 16.0%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.1%
  • Total unionized workers: 416,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 446,000

5. New Jersey

Trenton, New Jersey
FotosForTheFuture / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 16.2%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 17.9%
  • Total unionized workers: 608,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 672,000

4. Oregon

Bridge over the Willamette River, Oregon
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 17.8%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 18.8%
  • Total unionized workers: 318,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 336,000

3.Washington

Bremerton, Washington
Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 19.0%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 20.0%
  • Total unionized workers: 629,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 661,000

2. New York

Syracuse New York
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  • Percentage of unionized workers: 22.2%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 24.1%
  • Total unionized workers: 1,729,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 1,869,000

1. Hawaii

Neighborhood of the City of Honolulu
Real Window Creation / Shutterstock.com
  • Percentage of unionized workers: 22.4%
  • Percentage of workers represented by unions: 24.1%
  • Total unionized workers: 121,000
  • Total workers represented by unions: 131,000

Methodology

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The data used in this analysis comes from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Current Population Survey 2021. To determine the states with the highest union participation rates, the researchers calculated the percentage of unionized workers. In the event of a tie, the state with the highest percentage of workers represented by unions received the highest ranking. For greater clarity, “workers represented by unions” includes both union members who have the right to vote on union business, as well as workers who declare no union membership but whose jobs are covered by a collective agreement.

Only the 100 largest metropolitan areas for which data are available were considered in this analysis.

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