Pew Study Shows View of Labor Unions Has Improved

A recently released Pew Research Center study shows that more Americans favorably view labor unions. The national survey was conducted June 12-16 among 1,512 adults and shows that views of labor unions have improved across most groups since 2011, and not just among middle-aged white men–the popular image of unionists.

SurveyIn fact, the survey found that unions are now most favorable among women, people of color, young people between the ages of 18 and 29. Here’s a breakdown of the facts:

  • According to an MSNBC article about the new research, “women don’t make up a majority of the unionized workforce, but they’ve been narrowing the gap for years. They make up about 45% of the unionized workforce according to the latest numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics—and they’re gaining.”
  • African Americans in particular are more likely to be union members.  13.1% of all working African-Americans are part of a union, compared to 11% of all non-black workers.
  • 61% of surveyed young people between the ages of 18 and 29 support unions, showing that the millenial generation is changing the image of labor even further.
  • Overall, 51% of surveyed Americans view labor unions favorably. That’s 10 percentage points up from labor’s lowest approval rating two years ago in 2011, when attacks from the right were very prevalent in the media. Many people have seen that right to work legislation in states like Wisconsin has failed to solve any fiscal crisis–an argument that conservatives like Scott Walker used to gain support.
  • 80% of liberal Democrats view labor unions favorably compared to 23% of conservative Republicans.
  • More than a third of public sector workers are unionized.

A full summary and additional information about the survey can be viewed at