In the past, a large percentage of US workers have been union members, and the unions could exert a big influence on elections. How powerful are the unions these days, an where do they wield the most influence? Let's map it out...
In 1954, almost 35% of US workers belonged to unions, but the number has fallen since then. A recent CNN article says that "Only 11% of U.S. workers are part of unions, according to the Labor Department, yet Rutgers found that 76% of those surveyed believe it is a much higher percentage than that. In fact, 40% of Americans think union members make up 30% of the workforce." Add to that the fact that different parts of the country have vastly different union membership rates, and surveying people about union membership becomes a lot like asking several blind people to describe an elephant.
For the upcoming election, we're only interested in the current numbers. So I went to the BLS website, and got the latest data for union affiliation of employed wage and salary workers by state. The table looks something like this, and it is a bit difficult to compare all 50 states:
I decided to visualize the data using a bubble map, where the size of the bubble represents the total numbers of workers in each state, and then use a pie slice inside each bubble to show the percent of those workers who are members of a union. With the map, you can easily see where the 'union vote' might be more, and less, important.
Now for the big question - how will this likely affect the upcoming elections? Feel free to share your theories in the comments section!