Infographic: The Middle Class Needs Unions

As union membership has declined, the share of income going to the middle class has shrunk.


  • the American Worker Project

UnionsMiddleClassUPDATEDNote: For research that discusses the degree to which declining unionization rates contributed to increasing inequality in the United States, see Bruce Western and Jake Rosenfeld, “Unions, Norms, and the Rise in U.S. Wage Inequality,” American Sociological Review 76 (4) (2011): 513–537. For research on how unions affect inequality and redistributive government policies in other developed economies, see David Card, Thomas Lemieux, and W. Craig Riddell, “Unions and wage inequality,” Journal of Labor Research 25 (4) (2004): 519–559; Vincent A. Mahler, David K. Jesuit, and Piotr R. Paradowski, “The Political Sources of Government Redistribution in the Developed World: A Focus on the Middle Class,” presented at Inequality and the Status of the Middle Class Conference, June 28–30, 2010, available at; Jonas Pontusson, David Rueda, and Christopher R. Way, “Comparative Political Economy of Wage Distribution: The Role of Partisanship and Labour Market Institutions,” British Journal of Political Science 32 (2) (2002): 281–308; Richard Freeman, “Labor Market Institutions Around the World.” Discussion Paper 844 (Centre for Economic Performance, 2008).

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


the American Worker Project