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Report: Wisconsin union membership lags national average

The rate of union membership in both the state of Wisconsin and the Milwaukee metro area trails the national average, according to a report released Wednesday.

On average throughout the U.S., 10.3% of all workers were in unions in 2019. But in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, union workers made up just 6.2% of the labor force. And the state of Wisconsin as a whole had an 8.1% union membership rate.

That’s according to a report from analyst Construction Coverage which was released on Wednesday and draws on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the union-membership database unionstats.com. The report notes that union membership has been broadly decreasing over the past few decades. Nearly a quarter of American workers were in unions in 1979, whereas just 10.3% were in 2019.

The report attributes the decline in union membership to changes in the composition of the labor force — and the adoption of “right-to-work” laws.

Nationally, the construction industry has the third-highest share of union workers, behind the transportation and utility industry and government.

In a ranking of 52 metro areas, Milwaukee had the 37th-highest share of union workers, according to the report. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, by contrast, had the 10th highest share of union workers, and the Chicago area ranked 17th.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin ranked 30th of the 50 states for union membership.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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