The percentage of U.S. workers that hold labor union memberships hit a record low for the second consecutive year in 2023, despite unions racking up big wins and receiving the highest approval rating in decades.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Tuesday that the union membership ticked down to 10%, a slight decline from 10.1% in 2022.
Though the overall number of wage and salary workers belonging to a union rose to 14.4 million in 2023, up from 14.3 million the year before, it was not enough to keep up with the increase in non-union workers added to the workforce last year.
This disproportionately large increase in the total wage and salary employment, compared with the increase in the number of union members, has led to a decrease in the union membership rate for the past two years.
Last year's drop in the union membership rate came despite a flurry of labor activity, high-profile victories, and unions reaching their highest approval rating from the public in nearly six decades.
In 2023, organized Hollywood actors and writers hailed reaching new contracts after months of striking, the United Auto Workers achieved record contracts with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis after a striking against all three, and the Teamsters reached a record-breaking contract with UPS.
A Gallup survey from August found 71% of Americans approve of organized labor, up from 68% in 2021 and 64% prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data from Gallup's annual Work and Education survey also marked the highest rating Gallup has on record sine 1965, the year César Chávez formed AFL-CIO United Farm Workers Organizing Committee.
Still, union membership has been in steady decline since the 1970s and is now less than a third of its peak rate in the 1950s, when more than 30% of workers were in a union.
FOX Business' Bradford Betz, Daniella Genovese and Reuters contributed to this report.