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Center for Economic and Policy Research study finds unionization substantially increases workers wages

05.22.08

June 2008, Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton edition of The Union News

Center for Economic and Policy Research study finds unionization substantially increases workers wages

By PAUL TUCKER
theunionnewsabe@aol.com

REGION, May 18th- According to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a Washington, DC based independent nonpartisan economic think tank, unionization significantly boosts American low-wage workers.

The report, “The Union Advantage for Low-Wage Workers,” was released on May 15th and finds unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker by 20.6 percent. Unions also have a substantial impact on the wages of workers at the middle and top of the wage distribution, but the report found that the effect for low-wage workers was the largest.

For the typical worker in the United States, the earner right in the middle of the national pay scale, unionization raises wages about 13.7 percent, about two-thirds of the impact of unionization on the typical low-wage workers. For the typical high-wage worker, joining a union increased pay about 6.1 percent, or less than one-third of the increase for low-wage workers.

“Unions give the biddest boost to low-wage workers because these are the workers that have the least bargaining power in the labor market. Unionization has a large and measurable impact on the bargaining power, and therefore the wages, of low-wage workers,” said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study.

The study found the disproportionate impact of unions on low-wage workers also holds across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. In each state, the union premium was substantially larger for low-wage workers than it was for middle or high-wage workers.

The report analyzed five years of data on sixteen to sixty-four year old workers from the United States Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey for the years 2003 through 2007, the most recent years available.

Over the period covered in the report, 13.8 percent of American workers were either members of a union or covered by a union contract at their workplace. Over the same period, the unionization rate varied from 3.9 percent in North Carolina to 26.4 percent in New York.

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