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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

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