The share of American workers in unions fell to the lowest level on record in 2016, showing a return to the downward trend for organized labor after membership figures had stabilized in recent years.
The total number of union members fell for both private- and public-sector workers last year, the first overall decline in four years, the Labor Department said Thursday. New policies from the Trump administration threaten to put more downward pressure on organized labor’s last stronghold, government employees, but might help stem membership losses among manufacturing and construction workers.
Only 10.7% of workers were union members last year, down from 11.1% in 2015, and from more than 20% in the early 1980s. It is unclear whether any of Republican President Donald Trump’s policies could reverse this decadeslong slide in private-sector union membership, especially when unions were unable to gain traction with a union-friendly Democrat in the White House.