Unionized workers earn 11.9% more, on average, than non-union workers with similar characteristics, according to research reported by the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Adding a typical benefits load of 30%, the union premium grows to 15.5%.
The Center’s research is consistent with other studies that place the union wage premium at somewhere between 10% and 20%. What’s unique about this analysis, however, is that it stratifies workers by wage category, and estimates the union wage premium for low, moderate and high wage workers.
For example, the study estimates unionization raises the wages of low-wage workers (i.e., those in the 10th percentile) by 20.6%. As wages increase, the wage impact of unionization diminishes, adding only 6.1% to the highest wage group.
The study also provides state-by-state comparisons of the union wage premium at various wage levels. As one might expect given the Southeast’s reputation as a lower wage region, the union impact on wages is small relative to the Midwest and West. The union premium is below 10.4% in most of the Southeast, but more than 12.7% in most states west of the Mississippi River.
Of note among the southern states is Alabama. While the unionization wage impact is among the lowest when considering workers in all wage ranges together, with an 8% premium, carving out the lowest wage workers shows the state has a much higher unionization premium for this group, estimated at 21.4%.
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