Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on SmartAsset.com.
The The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that about 1 in 10 workers in 2020 was a union member (10.8%). Membership has increased by 0.5% since 2019, but has decreased by more than half (20.1%) since 1983, when about 1 in 5 workers were union members. Historically, organized labor has played an influential role in the American workforce, establishing and defending employee rights since the first union was founded by Philadelphia shoemakers in 1794. With that in mind, SmartAsset counted the numbers to determine where unions are strongest across the board. countries.
To do this, we considered seven measures: the percentage of union members, the four-year change in union membership, the average annual salary for all workers, the average annual salary for secondary school teachers, the ratio of teachers’ salaries in all professions, the average annual salary of firefighters and the ratio salaries of firefighters for all professions. We looked at teachers and firefighters in particular because these two professions generally have the highest levels of unionization, according to the BLS. For details on our data sources and how we combine all the information to produce our final ranking, read the Data and Methodology section at the end.
You can read the 2020 edition of the SmartAsset study on the countries with the strongest unions here.
Oregon ranks among the top 20 for each of the measurements we measured. The state has the seventh highest percentage of both trade union workers (16.20%) and four-year changes in trade union membership (an increase of 20.34%). Oregon also ranks ninth in the ratio of firefighters’ salaries to all occupations – firefighters earn 111.95% of the average salary of all workers.
2. Rhode Island
Rhode Island ranks in the top 10 for three different measurements. It has the third highest percentage of union members (17.79%), the fifth highest ratio between teachers ’salaries and all professions (126.25%) and the eighth highest average annual salary of high school teachers ($ 76,050).
The average annual salary for all workers in Washington State is $ 66,870, which is the third highest average salary of all states in this study. Washington is also in third place in terms of firefighter salaries ($ 77,700). About 17.38% of all government workers are in unions, the fifth highest rate for this metric in this study.
Maryland high school teachers earn an average annual salary of $ 77,770, the sixth highest annual salary on this list. The average annual salary for all workers is $ 63,610, the seventh highest of all countries surveyed. Firefighters, meanwhile, earn an average of $ 64,490 each year, the eighth highest salary for this measurement in the study.
Firefighters in California earn the second highest average annual salary ($ 86,860), which is 132.13% of the average annual salary for all workers (including the second highest rate for this metric). Also, the average annual salary for all workers in Golden State is in a higher place and is in fourth place with $ 65,740.
6. New York
Empire State has a 22.01 percent union membership rate, the second highest in the country. New York ranks first in both of the metrics we used that include teachers – high school teachers earn an average of $ 89,150, which is 131.39% of the average annual salary of all workers.
Hawaii has the highest union membership rate in the country, at 23.63%. Firefighters in the country earn an average of $ 68,590 each year, which is 117.87% of the average salary of all workers. These numbers are ranked fifth and fourth, respectively, in this study.
Wages of typically union professions are high compared to average wages in industries in Pennsylvania. Teachers earn 129.14% of the average salary for all workers, and firefighters 113.07% of the average salary. These numbers rank fourth or eighth highest in the study, respectively. The average annual salary is $ 53,950 for all workers, the 18th highest overall.
The average annual salary for all workers in Connecticut is $ 65,450 – the fifth highest in this study. High school teachers earn $ 81,140 and firefighters $ 67,630, which is the fourth and sixth highest place, respectively. Trade union membership is 17.10%, which is the sixth highest of all the countries we studied.
Nebraska ranks in the top 10 with a 32.31% increase in union membership over the four-year period from 2016 to 2020, the second highest jump for this metric in the study. Overall, union membership represents 9.58% of the state workforce, which ranks close to the middle of the study in 23rd place. In addition, the average salary at 31st place is the highest, at $ 50,260.
Data and methodology
To find the countries with the strongest unions, SmartAsset used data from 49 countries (Vermont did not have enough data) in the following seven measurements:
- Percentage of workers who are union members. The data comes from UnionStats.com and is for 2020.
- A four-year change in union membership. The data comes from UnionStats.com and is for 2016 and 2020.
- Average annual salary for all professions. Data come from the Office of Labor Statistics (BLS) and are for 2020.
- Average annual salary for secondary school teachers. The data come from the BLS and are for 2020. According to the BLS, one of the highest levels of trade unionization in 2020 was in education, training and the library professions. A high school teacher is an important profession in this industry. Workers in this job typically receive average salaries for all occupations in the industry.
- Teacher salary ratio for all professions. The data comes from BLS and is for 2020.
- Average annual salary of firefighters. The data come from the BLS and are for 2020. According to the BLS, it was one of the highest levels of trade unionization in 2020 among occupational groups in the occupations of protective services. Firefighter is an important profession in this industry. Workers in this job typically receive average salaries for all occupations in the industry.
- The ratio of salaries of firefighters for all professions. The data comes from BLS and is for 2020.
We first ranked each country in each measurement. We then found an average ranking for each country, giving two measures of union membership a double weight – percentage of union workers and a four-year change in union membership – and a half weight to four metrics on average annual salaries and wage ratios for teachers and firefighters. We then used the average rankings to produce the final ranking. The country with the highest average ranking received a score of 100 and the country with the lowest average ranking received 0.
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