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Pittsburgh Perspectives  

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Saturday, August 31, 2019  02:05 PM  (23)

Unionization in the Pittsburgh Labor Market

For both Pittsburgh and the nation, union membership, and the percentage of regional workers covered by collective bargaining agreements dropped significantly over the half-century following World War II.  This trend has impacted Pittsburgh which saw a major contraction of its highly unionized manufacturing industries over the same period. However, over the last decade, the overall rate of unionization in the Pittsburgh region has remained relatively stable.

For 2018, an estimated 14.5% of employed workers in the Pittsburgh MSA are union members, with 15% of regional workers covered by collective bargaining agreements.  Unionization rates vary significantly within the region by sector and industry. While approximately 60% of public sector workers are estimated to be union members, just 10% of private sector workers are union members.

These estimates of union membership have been calculated using data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) by Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University and David Macpherson of Trinity University.  For more information on these estimates see: The CPS is a nationwide survey widely used for labor force analysis. Annual estimates, especially for small groups such as union members, are impacted by sampling error which results in some of the annual variance seen in the trends shown above.  

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