The Labor & Employment Blog is a forum for practitioners and Bloomberg BNA editors to share ideas, raise issues, and network with colleagues.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
by Robert Combs
In my last post, I analyzed statistics from the 2012 edition
of Bloomberg BNA’s Union Membership and Earnings Data Book to find the state
with the largest percentage of union members among its population. This time,
using the same source, I’m looking for the city that holds the same
distinction. Which of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas has the greatest
Well, since we are counting both the private and public sector,
and government workers are much more likely to be unionized than their
privately-employed counterparts, it makes sense to focus on the cities that
have the most government workers—namely, state capitals. Sure enough, of the 10
metro areas that had a union density of about 20 percent or more in 2011, six
included state capitals. However, it’s anybody’s guess whether number 10 on this
list, Madison, Wis., will hold that position much longer, given the latest news developments.
We might also want to look at cities in the most unionized
state—which, as we previously discovered, is New York. Indeed, four New York
metro areas made the top 10—including New York City itself, which, despite claiming
more than 8 million residents in its metro area, still managed to post a union
density of 20.9 percent. Putting these two groups of cities together, it’s easy
for us to pinpoint the most unionized: It’s Albany-Schenectady-Troy, home of New
York’s state capital. In Albany’s metro area, 35 out of every 100 workers in
2011 was a union member. Buffalo-Niagara Falls finished second with 27.3 percent,
followed by Sacramento, Ca., and another New York city, Syracuse.
But what happens if we look only at private-sector workers?
Not much, actually: Of the top 10, all of which reported private-sector union
densities of 12 percent or more, seven are either state capitals or New York
cities—or, in Albany’s case, both. Albany (20.7 percent) and Buffalo (18.3
percent) finish at number one and two again, and the only outsiders to make the top 10 were Toledo,
Ohio; Las Vegas, Nevada; and the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.
Note: Metropolitan Statistical
Areas (MSAs) are based on the U.S. Census definition of the term. Some of
larger ones, like New York City, are actually Combined Statistical Areas, which
are made up of two or more MSAs.
Additional information about the Union Membership
and Earnings Data Book is available here.
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