Where will the 'union vote' matter most in the upcoming election?


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!


About Author

Robert Allison

The Graph Guy!

Robert has worked at SAS for over 25 years, and is perhaps the foremost expert in creating custom graphs using SAS/GRAPH. His educational background is in Computer Science, and he holds a BS, MS, and PhD from NC State University. He is the author of several conference papers, has won a few graphic competitions, and has written a book (SAS/GRAPH: Beyond the Basics).


  1. Leonid Batkhan

    Very nice chart! Could you please share the code behind it? As for the effect on election, I don't think it will have any as the union members vote individually and can go either way regardless of who gets an official union's endorsement.

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