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National union membership held steady in 2017, dropped in Pennsylvania

| Friday, Jan. 19, 2018, 3:18 p.m.
ATI Flat-Rolled Products employee Dave Finley of Leechburg holds up a sign as he faces fellow supporters at the ATI Bagdad plant in Gilpin during a rally on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015.
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
ATI Flat-Rolled Products employee Dave Finley of Leechburg holds up a sign as he faces fellow supporters at the ATI Bagdad plant in Gilpin during a rally on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2015.

The percentage of U.S. workers in a labor union held at 10.7 percent in 2017 despite unions gaining about 262,000 new members, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The rate held steady despite the gain in members because the overall workforce increased by about 1.7 million workers, going from 136.1 million in 2016 to 137.9 million in 2017.

Workers who were union members increased from 14.6 million to 14.8 million. The number of people covered by union contracts, which includes people who opt out of joining a union, increased from 16.3 million to 16.4 million, which comes to about 11.9 percent of the workforce in 2017.

In Pennsylvania, the rate dropped from 12.1 percent to 12 percent and the number of people in unions dropped from 685,000 to 665,000 while the number of people in the workforce also fell from 5.7 million to 5.5 million.

The number of people covered by union contracts fell from 724,000 to 723,000, but since that was less of decline than the overall drop in the workforce, the percent of workers covered by a contract increased from 12.7 percent to 13 percent.

The national rate of union membership in public-sector workers such as police and teachers was about five-times higher than the rate for private-sector workers. The public sector rate remained at 34.4 percent in 2017 while the private-sector rate increased from 6.4 percent in 2016 to 6.5 percent in 2017.

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