The Great Labor Divide: How Dems and the GOP view the decline of union workers | The Numbers Racket

United Home Care Workers of PA rally in the Capitol rotunda.

The majority of Americans see the decades-long decline in unionized workers as “bad” for workers, according to an April survey. 

Conducted by Pew Research Center, the survey found that more than half of Americans (56 percent) said the decrease in workers represented by unions has been “somewhat” or “very” bad for the country, while 60 percent said the decline was “somewhat” or “very” bad for working people. 

In 1983, 20 percent of American workers were union members. In the 38 years since, that number has seen a gradual, but persistent decline. 

In 2020, a little more than half (10.8 percent) of American workers were in a union. 

By Party

The decline in union membership is perceived differently by Democrats and Republicans, the survey found. 

Forty percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the decline in U.S. workers represented by unions is bad for the country, while 42 percent say it has been bad for working people. 

By contrast, 72 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say the decrease has been “somewhat” or “very” bad for the country with 76 percent saying the same for working people. 

In addition seeing the decline as a positive broadly, upper-income Republicans were more likely than middle or low-income Republicans to view the decline in union membership as a positive. 

Upper Income Republicans … 72 percent.

Middle Income Republicans … 55 percent.

Low Income Republicans … 45 percent. 

Upper Income Democrats … 19 percent. 

Middle Income Democrats … 22 percent. 

Low Income Democrats … 25 percent.

Liberal Democrats were more likely (82 percent) to see the decline as bad for working people than their more moderate or conservative counterparts (72 percent)

Sixteen percent of white Democrats said the decline in union membership has been “somewhat” or “very” good for working people, compared to 27 percent of Black and Hispanic Democrats. 

Cassie Miller
A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.