Interactive Map: Unions Are Good for Workers and the Economy in Every State

State and national fact sheets

Press call: Robert Reich, Beth Shulman, and Karla Walter

Unions paved the way to the middle class for millions of workers and pioneered benefits along the way, including paid health care and pensions. Even today, union workers earn significantly more on average than their non-union counterparts, are nearly 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions, and are 28 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance. Nearly three out of five survey respondents from a Peter Hart Research Associates poll report that they would join a union if they could. Yet workers attempting to unionize currently face a hostile legal environment and are commonly intimidated by aggressive antiunion employers.

Unions Help Keep Wages and Benefits Fair

Click on a state, or on “all states,” to see information about unionization there.

Union workers in state make  

(  per hour)

more than non-union workers, on average.

Drag the blue arrow to adjust the union coverage rate and see how it affects wages earned in the state.
  •  Change in unionized workers (from 2008)
  •  Change in wages earned in   (from 2008)***

Passing the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it harder for management to threaten workers seeking to join a union, is good for American workers and good for our economy. It would help boost workers’ wages and benefits, which would help state economies and the national economy during tough economic times.

The Employee Free Choice Act would help workers who want to join a union do so by ensuring fairness in the union selection process with three main provisions: workers would have a fair and direct path to join unions through a simple majority sign-up; employers who break the rules governing the unionization process would face stiffer penalties; and a first contract mediation and arbitration process would be introduced to thwart bad-faith bargaining.

The map above shows the union wage premium—how much higher unionized workers’ wages are then their non-union counterparts on average—and how much more workers in each state would earn in total wages annually if unionization rates increase.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund would like to thank the Center for Economic and Policy Research for providing the state-by-state analysis of the union wage premium.


* Data comes from CEPR analysis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics Current Population Survey Micro Data for all wage and salary workers 16 years and older. The union wage premium uses a four-year study period to determine how much higher, on average, unionized workers’ wages are than their non-union counterparts. The 2004 to 2007 study period was chosen to allow a sample size large enough to conduct a statistically valid state-by-state analysis. The analysis controls for workers’ age, sex, education level, and industry of employment; it includes observations where the Bureau of Labor Statistics has imputed missing wages, which imparts a downward bias on the effects of unionization. The hourly premium is based on the CEPR union wage premium and the 2008 real hourly earnings of all wage and salary workers from the Current Population Survey.

** The first year available for state-by-state union coverage data is 1983. Data is from Hirsch and Macpherson, “Union Membership and Coverage Database from the Current Population Survey,” available at

*** The estimated change in wages earned if union coverage rates changed does not include any estimate of the wage benefit to non-union workers. The estimated change in wages would be higher if this benefit were included. Authors’ calculations are based on CEPR estimates of the union premium, CAPAF analysis of the BLS Current Population Survey for all wage and salary workers 16 years and older, and BLS Current Employment Statistics Survey (National).

For more information:

State and national fact sheets

Press call: Robert Reich, Beth Shulman, and Karla Walter