IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Economic Status of Union Workers in the United States




Although American labor unions evolved out of poverty, today's typical union worker is relatively affluent. Current Population Survey data show that average annual household earnings in 2002 for full-time union workers were nearly $79,000, nearly double the median of all households (including ones with nonworkers), and more than for nonunion worker households. While relatively few union workers are truly "poor," a larger proportion (over one-third for members of teachers' unions) comes from households with over $100,000 in annual income. A puzzle: why do union members tend to support liberal policies and politicians far more than their relative affluence would predict? Perhaps it partly reflects rent-seeking behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Vedder & Charlene Kalenkoski, 2006. "The Economic Status of Union Workers in the United States," Journal of Labor Research, Transaction Publishers, vol. 27(4), pages 593-603, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:tra:jlabre:v:27:y:2006:i:4:p:593-603

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Porter, Michael E, 1974. "Consumer Behavior, Retailer Power and Market Performance in Consumer Goods Industries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(4), pages 419-436, November.
    2. Henry S. Farber, 1982. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," NBER Working Papers 1006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. W. Craig Riddell, 1993. "Unionization in Canada and the United States: A Tale of Two Countries," NBER Chapters,in: Small Differences That Matter: Labor Markets and Income Maintenance in Canada and the United States, pages 109-148 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Rafael Gomez & Seymour Martin Lipset & Noah Meltz, 2001. "Frustrated Demand for Unionisation: the Case of the United States and Canada Revisited," CEP Discussion Papers dp0492, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    5. Farber, Henry S., 1983. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 227, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    6. Gomez, Rafael & Gunderson, Morley & Meltz, Noah, 2001. "From 'playstations' to 'workstations': youth preferences for unionisation in Canada," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20100, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. H. S. Farber, 1982. "The Determination of the Union Status of Workers," Working papers 299, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
    8. Stigler, George J & Becker, Gary S, 1977. "De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(2), pages 76-90, March.
    9. Towers, Brian, 1997. "The Representation Gap: Change and Reform in the British and American Workplace," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198289463.
    10. Henry S. Farber, 2001. "Notes on the Economics of Labor Unions," Working Papers 831, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tra:jlabre:v:27:y:2006:i:4:p:593-603. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.