The Views of Top Economics and Policy Professors in Illinois

Poll: Illinois’ Top Economics and Policy Professors Support Infrastructure Investment, Anti-Discrimination Laws, Public Education, Marijuana Legalization, and Action on Climate Change Respondents more mixed on minimum wage laws and labor unions A new poll of academics from accredited university programs … Continue reading The Views of Top Economics and Policy Professors in Illinois

Union Power in 2014: Significant but Waning

Frank Manzo IV is the Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI). Visit ILEPI at or follow ILEPI on Twitter @illinoisEPI.

Today, the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) released a new Research Report on the Illinois labor movement. Co-authored with researchers from the University of Illinois Labor Education Program (LEP) and University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration (SSA), The State of the Unions 2014: A Profile of Unionization in Chicago, in Illinois, and in America ­(PDF) analyzes the current state of labor unions and the course of unionization. The report investigates unionization rates and the impact of unions on wages across demographic, education, sector, industry, and occupation classifications.

Below are the main findings of the report, which is available online at this link (PDF):

  • There are approximately 116,000 fewer union members in Illinois today than there were in 2003 (and about 1.26 million fewer nationwide);
  • The decline in union members was primarily the result of decreases in male unionization, white unionization, and private sector unionization;
  • Despite the long-term downward trends, however, unionization increased in Illinois last year (from 14.6 percent to 15.7 percent- or by about 50,000 new members);
  • The year-over-year gains were driven by increases in the unionization of Chicago area workers, female workers, African-American workers, public sector workers, and older workers. Indeed, while union membership rates for women, African-American workers, and the public sector have trended downwards nationally, unionization for these groups has risen in Illinois since 2003;
  • Employment in the utilities industry, construction industry, or public sector raises the chances that a given Illinois worker is a union member;
  • High school dropouts, non-citizens, and residents who live in rural communities are less likely to be unionized in Illinois;
  • Unions raise worker wages by 21.4 percent on average (20.3 percent on median) in Illinois, higher than the national average of 16.7 percent;
  • Illinois ranks 8th among the 50 states plus D.C. in terms of union wage premium; and
  • Union workers work 4.8 hours longer each week than nonunion workers in Illinois.


Separately, ILEPI has also released another Economic Commentary jointly with the University of Illinois Labor Education Program on the socioeconomic differences between union households and nonunion households in America. Union and Nonunion Households: General Social Survey, 2000-2012 (PDF) compares and contrasts individuals in the two types of households across many characteristics– including household composition, work and income traits, religiosity, political affiliation, and institutional confidence. Continue reading “Union Power in 2014: Significant but Waning”