More Americans View Decline in Union Membership Negatively

Pew Research Study 2018

The number of Americans represented by labor unions has decreased substantially since the 1950s, and a new Pew Research Center survey finds that the decline is seen more negatively than positively by U.S. adults. The survey also finds that 55% of Americans have a favorable impression of unions, with about as many (53%) viewing business corporations favorably.

About half of Americans (51%) say the large reduction in union representation has been mostly bad for working people in the U.S., while 35% say it has been mostly good, according to the Center’s survey, which was conducted in April and May. Youth views on labor unions statistics chart

Views of labor unions have fluctuated modestly over the past two decades, but have become more positive than they were during the Great Recession.

A majority of the public (55%) now holds a favorable view of labor unions, while 33% hold an unfavorable view. The share with a favorable view is down slightly from last year (60%), but much higher than in 2011, when just 41% viewed unions favorably.

Similarly, views of business corporations are currently much more positive today (53% favorable) than they were seven years ago (38%).

Democrats continue to be far more likely than Republicans to view labor unions favorably, while the reverse is true in opinions of business corporations.

Young adults continue to be more likely than older people to express a favorable opinion of labor unions. A 68% majority of those ages 18 to 29 hold a positive view of unions, compared with only about half (51%) of those 50 and older.

Read an overview of the Pew Research study and get access to the Full Methodology HERE.

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