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What the data says about Union membership and the economy

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posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 02:16 AM
After I heard about the right-to-work law that is being implemented in Michigan, I thought I'd research into just what kind of impact Unions have had on the economy and businesses. There is alot of data out there concerning median income, Union membership, and economic growth, but much of it is hard the interpret at first. I've collected data over the last 60 years on Union membership vs economic growth, it contradicts alot of the attacks we've seen mounted against unions over the years:

1950: (Union membership) 32% - (Median income) $25,000 --------------------------
(unemployment) 5.7%

1960: (Union membership) 31% - (Median income) $35,000 --------------------------
(unemployment) 5.2%

1970: (Union membership) 27% - (Median income) $45,146 - (Top 5%) $168,000
(unemployment) 3.8%

1980: (Union membership) 22% - (Median income) $46,024 - (Top 5%) $176,000
(unemployment) 6%

1990: (Union membership) 15% - (Median income) $48,423 - (Top 5%) $225,000
(unemployment) 5.1%

2000: (Union membership) 13% - (Median income) $53,164 - (Top 5%) $322,000
(unemployment) 4.5%

2010: (Union membership) 11% - (Median income) $49,445 - (Top 5%) $293,000 -
(unemployment) 9.7%

The data may be a little hard to digest, but once you get through it you'll see what it is clearly showing. We all know that Union membership has been on the decline over the last few decades, whether it is due to the reputation of Unions or whether it is due to laws to better the work environment is debatable. There is however no clear correlation showing that with the decline of Union membership came better economic conditions. It appears that only the well off have been benefiting from the decline of Union membership, meanwhile the middle and lower classes continue to hang in some kind of limbo, unemployment is worse now than it was when Union membership was at its highest.

Research has already begun on right-to-work laws in other States and so far there is no indication showing that this law either stimulates the economy or brings forward more jobs:

At this point Union membership is the lowest it's been in 70 years and it continues to decline:

So why is it that Republican and conservative groups, individuals, continue to target a minority segment of the middle and lower classes when clearly their influence has been in sharp decline (in contrast to the wealthy elite?). That's a question people can take the time to ask themselves at some point. If you want to talk about union "thugs" and "corruption", by all means. We can also debate about corporate thugs and corruption, because in the end both groups consist of corrupted human beings. But this debate will be besides the point, the decline of Union influence has not made the economy better, it has not changed the great divide between the rich and poor, instead that divide has continued to grow.

Note: I was unable to find proper data on the median income of the top 5% for the 50's and 60's, but I am confident the data will indicate an increase between those decades.
edit on 19-12-2012 by Southern Guardian because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 04:05 AM
reply to post by Southern Guardian

Yours is a good post, but it should only be used as a part of a whole. I tend to lean anti-union most of the time, but there are too many economic variables involved here to point to just one, such as the decline of unions, and say this is why people make more money.

What types of jobs are involved?
How has the workforce changed in the last 60 years?
How many more people are in the workforce in relation to the above?
How many more people have degree's in relation to the above?
How many more jobs actually require degrees?
What do the cost of living increases look like in relation to inflation?
Because of the pay discrepancies between men and women, how many more women are in the workforce? Especially at the corporate level?
What do U.S.regional statistics look like?
What do the job stats per region tell you?
How those numbers effect the whole?
How many more seniors do we have now in relation to the population numbers of 1950? and 2010?
Does Social Security count as "income" in this regard?
Are independent contract wages included in these stats?
Are Expat jobs included in these stats?
Are workers in foreign countries employed by American based companies involved in these stats?
Why should the CEO's of said companies be included fully in these stats when part of what THEY make is based on foreign labor?

Taking these and other factors all into consideration will give you a more concise view of the economic fabric of America.

Unions play a minor role, as evidenced by the information you presented, in the overall economy and financial well-being of the average American. Actually OP, I think you started something that Wrabbit 2000 may be able to finish. He loves making charts about these sorts of things. I'm only good at providing an overview of things that people can work from. We all have our skill sets here and working together is the way to go.

Everything is too global these days and people need to get out of this "American" mindset when it comes to business. It simplifies things to the point where you don't get the big picture, you're doing yourself ( Not you OP) a disservice by keeping yourself not as educated about the whole thing as you could be and, as a result, you'll keep spreading that dis-information to others. Not on purpose of course, but that is ultimately the outcome.

Good post though OP. We need more people here like you to keep reality checks alive and well on this board.
edit on 19-12-2012 by Taupin Desciple because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 19 2012 @ 04:10 AM
The Michigan issue had them using words like Civil War and physically violent. I don't much care what was happening around that confrontation and it's not the first time Union "representatives" have gotten vile, obscene or violent. Somewhere around here I've got video from last year of a verizon strike and the Union people getting outright vile with little kids around. Basic decency isn't that much to ask for. Although after seeing what the "dedicated supporters" did to the Wisconsin Statehouse? Hmm.. Maybe it is asking too much.

Regardless... The headlines today have the Longshoreman Union threatening a year end strike from Maine to Texas in U.S. Ports. Minority? Well, for the 330 Million person U.S. Population, they are a minority. Sure. For the influence in those sectors of the economy and nation they control? It's a near monopoly where law doesn't force it to be otherwise by things like Right to Work.

Civil war talk...and talk of a Happy New Year with strikes across over half the U.S. ports is about the LAST way on EARTH they will ever see sympathy or support from the general public. Hearing things like that leaves me thinking they haven't declined near enough, frankly. They've become their own worst enemy and perhaps rank and file Union members need to look at the multi-millionaires running their Unions and consider some leadership change of their own. It might be what saves them long term, IMO.

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