A couple weeks ago I pointed out the historic statistical fact that government employees now make up a raw majority of all unionized workers in the USA.
In addition, Colorado’s union membership and density (which includes workers covered by a union contract, regardless of whether they join as members or not) are at historic lows for the past quarter century, and thus presumably for many decades before that as well. Only 7 percent of Colorado workers are union members, and 8.3 percent are covered by a union contract.
Now Barry Hirsch and David Macpherson, the good folks who run UnionStats.com, have pored through Labor Department data and broken down state-level data between public and private sector employment. Did Colorado follow the national trend of shrinking union influence in the private sector but growing union influence in the public sector?
Colorado’s union membership and density not only for private sector workers (4.5% and 5.2%), but also to a lesser degree for public sector workers (20.9% and 25.3%) — rates doubtless propped up by teachers unions — fell from 2008 to 2009. The state’s decline in private sector unionization matches the national trend, but the state’s real but smaller decline in government unionization actually bucks the national trend.
To be fair, there tends to be some small fluctuation with the rates because of relatively small sample sizes. Over a longer span of time it appears that Colorado’s public sector unionization rate is mostly flat. Click on Fullscreen below for a closer look at the chart I created from Union Stats data:
There are a lot of possible economic and political effects from the changes in Colorado’s workforce. I’ll return to some of them later, but will leave my intelligent readers to explore them in the meantime.