February 12, 2014

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2014
Contact: Alan Barber (202) 293-5380 x115

Washington DC – For over 50 years, black workers in the United States have found union representation to be a source of higher quality jobs than would otherwise be available. These jobs played an important role in creating a path to the middle class for many African Americans and their families. A new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), demonstrates that despite a long decline in unionization rates in the United States, unions continue to boost the wages and benefits of black workers.

"Unionization rates are down for all workers, including black workers, but the pay and benefit boost for unionized black workers is very clear in the data," said Janelle Jones, a research associate at CEPR and an author of the report. Jones and her co-author, John Schmitt, note that black workers continue to have a higher unionization rate (15 percent) than the rate for all workers (13 percent).

Among the highlights of the “Union Advantage for Black Workers” report:

  • Unionized African-American workers earn, on average, 15.6 percent more than their non-union counterparts.
  • Almost three-fourths of unionized black workers had health insurance through their employer or union, compared to less than half of non-unionized black workers.
  • Almost twice as many black workers had an employer-sponsored retirement plan as black workers who were not in a union.
  • While unionization boosted the wages and benefits of black workers at all levels of educational attainment, the benefits of union representation were largest for less-educated workers.

The report is based on CEPR's analysis of the most recent Current Population Survey (CPS) data available, covering the period 2008-2013.


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