According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 14.2 percent
(68,000) of Rhode Island private and public sector workers were
union members in 2015. This represented an over-the-year
decrease of nine-tenths of a percentage points. The number of
union members, unchanged from 2014 at 68,000, remained at its
lowest level in over twenty years and accounted for the smallest
percentage of employed workers in over twenty years.
Nationally, the union membership rate was 11.1 percent in 2015,
unchanged from 2014 and well below the 20.1 percent measured in
1983. Among the fifty states, Rhode Island, along with
Minnesota, reported the twelfth highest union membership rate,
trailing New York (24.7%), Hawaii (20.4%), Alaska (19.6%),
Connecticut (17.0%), Washington (16.8%), California (15.9%), New
Jersey (15.4%), Michigan (15.2%), Illinois (15.2%), Oregon
(14.8%) and Nevada (14.3%). South Carolina (2.1%), North
Carolina (3.0%), Utah (3.9%) and Georgia (4.0%) had the lowest
union membership rates in 2015.
Regionally, Connecticut (17.0%) had the highest union membership
rate in New England, followed by Rhode Island (14.2%),
Massachusetts (12.9%), Vermont (12.6%) and Maine (11.6%). Only
New Hampshire (9.7%) had union membership rates below the
Union members and workers whose jobs are covered by a union or
employee association contract represented 12.3 percent of the
nation’s wage and salary workers and 14.9 percent of Rhode
Island’s wage and salary workers.
* 1983 is the first year for which comparable union data
Data included within this report is derived from the Current Population
Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households conducted by the Bureau of
Census for the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union membership data refers to
members of a labor union or an employee association similar to a union.
Union representation data includes union members as well as workers who
report no union affiliation, but whose jobs are covered by a union or an
employee association contract. For more information on CPS data, please