- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Union membership in Nevada dropped last year to its lowest level since the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data in 1989, according to statistics released by the federal government.

Members of unions accounted for 12.1 percent of wage and salary workers in the Silver State in 2016, a drop from 14.3 percent in 2015. Union membership had held steady at just above 14 percent for nearly six years until last year, The Las Vegas Sun reported (https://bit.ly/2mfzWE6).

“A large drop in union density occurred among public sector workers, and it fell more in the membership figure than the coverage figure,” University of Nevada Las Vegas economics professor Jeff Waddoups said. “Public sector unions are losing membership faster than coverage. This means that people who are getting the benefit of union representation are not paying dues, and that unions are having a more difficult time getting workers to pay dues.”

Despite the decrease, Nevada’s union membership was still above last year’s national average of 10.7 percent. The state ranked 14th nationally for its union membership.

There are 146,000 union members in Nevada plus another 36,000 workers who are represented by unions or covered by an employee association of contracting while not belonging to a union.

The two groups account for 15 percent of the state’s total number of employees, placing Nevada 13th in the nation in that category. It tied for eighth with Michigan in 2015.

According to unionstats.com, all work sectors showed declines in union membership last year in Nevada. Public-sector union membership fell from 32.4 to 27.5 percent, while private-sector membership dropped from 11.2 to 9.7 percent. Private manufacturing took a big hit, falling from 11.3 to 4.7 percent and union membership in private construction moved down from 19.3 to 16.7 percent.

Waddoups says the drop in construction could be “because employment in residential and light commercial has increased more than in heavy commercial, which is more likely to be unionized.”

The federal statistics show New York leads the country in workforce share of union membership at 24.7 percent, followed by Hawaii at 20.4 percent and Alaska at 19.6 percent. South Carolina ranks at the bottom of the statistics with 2.1 percent membership, followed by North Carolina at 3 percent and Utah at 3.9 percent.

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, https://www.lasvegassun.com


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