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Union Membership in Rhode Island

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 17.4 percent (83,000) of Rhode Island private and public sector workers were union members in 2018. This represented an over-the-year increase of one and three-tenths percentage points. The number of union members, up 5,000 from 78,000 in 2017, was at its highest level since 2003.

Nationally, the union membership rate was 10.5 percent in 2018, down two-tenths of a percentage point from 2017 and well below the 20.1 percent measured in 1983. Among the fifty states, Rhode Island reported the fifth highest union membership rate, trailing Hawaii (23.1%), New York (22.3%), Washington (19.8%) and Alaska (18.5%). South Carolina (2.7%), North Carolina (2.7%), Utah (4.1%), Virginia (4.3%) and Texas (4.3%) had the lowest union membership rates in 2018.

New England Union Rates Map

Regionally, Rhode Island (17.4%) had the highest union membership rate in New England, followed by Connecticut (16.0%), Massachusetts (13.7%), Maine (12.9%), Vermont (10.5%) and New Hampshire (10.2%). Only New Hampshire had a union membership rate below the national average, while Vermont was equal to the national average.

Union members and workers whose jobs are covered by a union or employee association contract represented 11.7 percent of the nation’s wage and salary workers and 18.5 percent of Rhode Island’s wage and salary workers.

Rhode Island Union Membership 

* 1983 is the first year for which comparable union data are available.
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 visit www.bls.gov/cps.

RI Department of Labor and Training
Labor Market Information
Center General Complex
1511 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston, RI 02920

Phone: (401) 462-8740
Fax (401) 462-8766
TTY via RI Relay: 711
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