U.S. Approval of Labor Unions Tops 70%, the Highest Point Since 1965

October 6, 2022

According to a recently released poll from Gallup, seventy-one percent of Americans now say they approve of labor unions. Although statistically similar to last year’s 68% approval rating, it is up from 64% before the pandemic and is the highest Gallup has recorded on this question since 1965 – almost 60 years ago. 

The latest approval result comes amid an increasing number of 2022 union victories across the country, with high-profile and widely reported labor organizing successes at major American corporations such as Amazon and Starbucks. In fact, the National Labor Relations Board reported a 57% increase in union election petitions filed during the first six months of fiscal year 2021. 

Historical support for labor unions peaked in the 1950s, when three in four Americans said they approved of unions. Support only dipped below the 50% mark once, in 2009, but has improved in the 13 years since and now sits at a level last seen nearly 60 years ago. 

But despite the traditionally high levels of labor union approval, relatively few American workers are active members of labor unions in their current workplaces.  Only about sixteen percent of Americans live in a household where at least one resident is a union member. This includes U.S. adults who report that they themselves are a union member at 6% of respondents, or those who say someone else in their home is a union member at 7%. 

This increased approval for labor unions has developed in the context of the tight labor market and persistent low unemployment rate that developed during the pandemic, which has altered the balance of power between employers and employees, creating an environment more accepting and open towards union membership – resulting in the formation of unions at several high-profile companies.   

It is a challenging environment for employers – while most employers reflexively push back against unionization efforts despite unions’ improved public image, an increase in unionization efforts is still taking place. Employers of these organizing and newly unionized workers will need to find ways to improve their workplaces and working conditions if they wish to hold on to their status quo relationship with their employees. 

To listen to the audio version of this post on The Workplace Minute, powered by H3 HR Advisors, please visit hrhappyhour.net.

How we can help

Led by Trish Steed and Steve Boese, H3 HR Advisors harnesses over 40 years of experience to delivery HCM insights and guidance to global organizations.

Advisory services

By leveraging technology, analytics, and our deep industry knowledge we can help you to reposition your workforce and ensure that you have the right people with the right capabilities in the right roles to positively impact the growth of your business. 

HR Happy Hour Podcast Network

Created in 2009, The HR Happy Hour Show is hosted by Steve Boese and Trish Steed and is the longest continuously running internet radio show and podcast on Human Resources, HR Technology, Talent Practices, Workplace and Leadership topics. 

Speaking Services

We work closely with every client to customize your content - keynotes, webinars, research, infographics, and buyer’s guides - to inspire, educate and inform the audience enabling you to reset and realign your organization for a talent-led breakthrough.

Get in touch

Talk to us today and find out how we can help you and your organization leverage HCM technology to attract, onboard, retain and manage top talent.