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Feb
2014
4

BLS Numbers Reveal Unionization Cuts the Gender Pay Gap In Half for Women

Women in Construction

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The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has analyzed new numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that the gender pay gap is dramatically lower for unionized females compared to their non-union peers.  On average, unionized women make 9.4 cents less than men in the same position. This is half the difference non-unionized women, who earn 18.7 cents less than non-unionized men, experience.  

For unionized women, the gender gap continues to close.  From 2012 to 2013, the gender wage gap improved by 2.4 cents.  In comparison, the gender wage gap for non-unionized workers has not changed in five years.   

For women, joining a union creates a pay raise equivalent to attending a year of college, according to the NWLC:

Female union members who work full time typically make $898 per week - $222 more than female non-union workers who typically make $676 per week.
• Male union members who work full time typically make $991 per week - $160 more than male non-union workers who typically make $831 per week.

The only downside to this? Not enough women — or men, for that matter — are unionized. Currently only 11.3 percent of the American workforce is unionized, of which roughly 45 percent are women.  A rise in union density would lift all ships, helping to chip away at income inequality and add power to the tax base to create better schools and infrastructure. Think Progress sums up the benefits of unionization thusly:

… the benefits of unionization accrue to all workers. Falling rates closely track falling wages, but if the share of workers who belong to a union were 10 percent higher, middle class workers would make nearly $1,500 more a year whether or not they belonged to one. Higher rates are also linked to higher economic mobility to move up the income ladder, while falling rates have come alongside rising income inequality.

Other findings show that while union density remained unchanged in 2013, public sector union membership declined over the past year. The overall numbers remained constant due to increased efforts to organize industries that have not been traditionally unionized.

Read a summary of the statistics from the BLS website.

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