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Union Membership in the United States, 1973–1981


  • Edward C. Kokkelenberg
  • Donna R. Sockell


This paper reports estimates of union membership gathered from May Current Population Surveys, from 1973 to 1981. The authors present data by occupation, industry, selected states and SMSAs, race, gender, and educational attainment. The paper both extends and differs from that by Freeman and Medoff, which presents unionism estimates for the private sector for 1968–75. To facilitate longitudinal analysis, this paper reports three-year moving averages of occupational and industry data and annual estimates of demographic classifications. The data include public sector as well as private sector workers, and they exclude workers not covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Also, the authors provide only union-membership estimates, not estimates on workers covered by union contracts. This paper suggests that the percentage of all workers that are unionized in the United States remained fairly constant over the 1973–81 period.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward C. Kokkelenberg & Donna R. Sockell, 1985. "Union Membership in the United States, 1973–1981," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 38(4), pages 497-543, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:ilrrev:v:38:y:1985:i:4:p:497-543

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    Cited by:

    1. Laura Rovegno, 2013. "Trade protection and market power: evidence from US antidumping and countervailing duties," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 149(3), pages 443-476, September.
    2. Magnani, Elisabetta & Prentice, David, 2003. "Did globalization reduce unionization? Evidence from US manufacturing," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(6), pages 705-726, December.
    3. Woodbury, Stephen A & Hamermesh, Daniel S, 1992. "Taxes, Fringe Benefits and Faculty," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(2), pages 287-296, May.
    4. William T. Dickens & Jonathan S. Leonard, 1986. "Structural Changes in Unionization: 1973-1981," NBER Working Papers 1882, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Edward N. Wolff, "undated". "Skills, Computerization, and Earnings in the Postwar U.S. Economy," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_331, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Elisabetta Magnani & David Prentice, 2000. "Unionisation, short-run flexibility and cost efficiency: Evidence from U.S. manufacturing," Working Papers 2000.04, School of Economics, La Trobe University.
    7. Edward B. Montgomery, 1994. "Patterns in Regional Labor Market Adjustment: The United States versus Japan," NBER Chapters, in: Social Protection versus Economic Flexibility: Is There a Trade-Off?, pages 95-118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. MacDonald, James M. & Ollinger, Michael & Nelson, Kenneth E. & Handy, Charles R., 2000. "Consolidation In U.S. Meatpacking," Agricultural Economic Reports 34021, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    9. Erol Taymaz, 1991. "The Impact of Trade Unions on the Diffusion of Technology: The Case of NC Machine Tools," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 29(2), pages 305-311, June.
    10. Hoehn, John P. & Berger, Mark C. & Blomquist, Glenn C., 1986. "A Hedonic Model of Interregional Wages, Rents and Amenity Values," Staff Paper Series 200902, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    11. Thomas Karier, 1991. "Accounting for the Decline in Private Sector Unionization: Representation Elections, Structural Change and Restructuring," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_44, Levy Economics Institute.
    12. Ann P. Bartel & Frank R. Lichtenberg, 1988. "Technical Change, Learning, and Wages," NBER Working Papers 2732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Robst, John & Turcotte, Leo, 1998. "The effect of regulatory legislation on workers' earnings," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 255-261, May.
    14. Blanchflower, David G., 2006. "A Cross-Country Study of Union Membership," IZA Discussion Papers 2016, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    15. Carrington, William J & Zaman, Asad, 1994. "Interindustry Variation in the Costs of Job Displacement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 12(2), pages 243-275, April.

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