Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day -- take the day off

Membership in traditional labor unions has been declining for some time. Last year, 12.3 percent of wage and salary workers were union members, compared with 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year for which the federal government compiled comparable data. 

But public employee unions are growing. More public sector employees (7.9 million) belonged to a union than did private sector employees (7.4 million), despite there being 5 times more wage and salary workers in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Workers in education, training, and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.1 percent.

And it's paying off for those public workers. Federal workers are more likely to receive employer-paid health benefits than private sector workers — 77 percent compared to 56 percent. Federal workers are also more likely than private sector workers to garner pension benefits (81 percent compared to 53 percent).

In pictures:

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