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POLL: Americans More Optimistic About Labor Unions Than They’ve Been in a Decade


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Americans are warming up to organized labor. Or, more precisely, warming back up. Reheating, if you will.

A new Gallup poll shows 52% believe labor unions benefit the broader U.S. economy, while only 41% believe unions hurt the economy. Although that slim majority is still below the historical norm, it is the most optimistic Americans have been on the issue in a decade:

This represents a 7-point rise since 2011 and it is the most positive Americans have been about the economic effects of unions since 2006, the year prior to the Great Recession. 

[…] All in all, Americans are positive about other effects of labor unions. Seventy percent think unions help members of the union and 55 percent believe they help companies where workers are unionized.

Public approval ratings for labor unions plummeted from 2006 to 2009. During that time, the United States experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, which included the collapse and subsequent bailout of the auto industry.

The challenges faced by organized labor didn’t start there, of course. Union membership has been on the decline for decades. Now, a recent study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) suggests general wage stagnation in the U.S. may be due in part to that decline:

According to the Economic Policy Institute, union membership among men in the private sector dropped from 34 percent in 1979 to just 10 percent in 2013. Among women, unionization has dropped from 16 to 6 percent in the same time period. A study released on Tuesday by the EPI points to declining union membership as one cause of wage stagnation among all Americans. 

But while union membership overall has been declining for decades, it has seen a growth in the digital media industry. Several big media companies, including The Huffington Post, have unionized in the last couple of years.

Cick for more on the Gallup poll, and read our recent post on the EPI report.


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