Union Membership Rates & Middle Class Incomes

Union Membership Rates & Middle Class Incomes

Unfortunately, unionization rates have been in decline for decades and the share of national income going to the middle class has fallen too. Meanwhile, the proportion of pay held by the highest-income Americans has shot up dramatically: in 2007, the top ten percent of households earned 49.7 percent of the nation’s income. Factors like globalization, technological change, and especially the demand for highly skilled workers that has put a premium on the value of a college education contribute to the divergence between the middle class and the wealthy, but Western and Rosenfeld make a powerful case that the decline of union representation was also a major influence – contributing as much as third to the growth of income inequality among working men since 1973. Without unions or any other organized force to fight for workers’ share of economic gains, the middle class is dwindling – and so is its purchasing power. This trend was obscured during the early 2000s as Americans tapped credit cards and rising home equity to support their consumer spending.