The long-term decline in the number of Americans represented by labor unions is seen more negatively than positively by U.S. adults, according to new Pew Research Center survey released this week.
Fifty-one percent said the reduction in union representation over the past 20 years has been mostly bad for working people, while 35 percent said it had been mostly good.
Last year only 10.7 percent of wage and salaried workers in the U.S. were members of labor unions, down from 20.1 percent in 1983 and after peaking at 34 percent in 1954.
Other results in the survey show:
- Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, 68 percent said the reduction in union membership has been mostly bad for working people, while only 34 percent of Republicans and GOP leaners said the same.
- Among blacks, 65 percent said the decline in union representation has been mostly bad for working people, while 52 percent of Hispanics and 49 percent of whites said the same.
- Adults younger than 30 are the only age group in which a majority, 56 percent, said the reduction in union membership has been mostly bad for working people. Fifty percent of those 30 and older express this view.
- Fifty-five percent of the public holds a favorable view of labor unions, while 33 percent have an unfavorable view. Those with a favorable view is down from 60 percent last year but much higher than the 41 percent who had that view in 2011.
- Views of business corporations are also much more positive today, at 53 percent favorable, than the 38 percent who thought so seven years ago.
- Among Democrats, 70 percent hold a favorable view of labor unions, while only 40 percent of Republicans think the same.
- By contrast, 65 percent of Republicans view business corporations favorably, while only 46 percent of Democrats hold the same view.
The survey was conducted between April 25 and May 1.
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