American workers’ attitudes toward unions have improved strikingly since 2009. Although only 6.6% of private sector workers belonged to a union in 2014 (down from 7.2% in 2009), according to a Gallup poll released on August 17, 2015, 58% of Americans now “approve” of labor unions, an increase of 10 percentage points since 2009. The figures include a jump of five percentage points in the last year.
Support for unions is higher among women (63%) than men (52%), and support is higher among younger people (aged 18-34) (66%) and older people (over 55) (58%) than those who are middle-aged (aged 35-54) (53%). Not surprisingly, approval of unions is lowest, geographically, in the South (45%) and, politically, among Republicans (42%).
The reasons for the change in the perspective of Americans toward unions are unclear. However, the focus on income inequality, the “one percenters,” and organized labor’s push for a minimum “living wage” of $15 per hour likely have contributed to this change in attitude.