New Data Shows Public Unions Dominate In Oregon

News Release
March 5, 2002
For Immediate Release
Contact: David Denholm
Phone: 703-242-3575
Fax: 703-242-3579

The recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report on Union Membership in 2001 showed American labor unions gaining 17,000 members last year. The small gain reflected a loss of 35,000 members on private payrolls, masked by a gain of 52,000 in the public sector.

A detailed analysis of data from the Current Population Survey, the same information on which the BLS report is based, shows that Oregon unions lost about 11,200 members in 2001.

According to the CPS data, Oregon suffered the employment losses experienced in other areas of the country. Private payrolls declined by 29,100 while public employment increased by 16,300 for a net loss of 12,800 jobs. Union membership in Oregon declined by approximately 11,500 on private payrolls masked slightly by a gain of 300 in government unions. In 2001, there were a total of 223,200 union members in Oregon, 110,500 on private payrolls and 112,700 in government unions. Union market share in the private sector fell from 9.8 to 9.1 percent of the workforce, while in the public sector it fell from 53.8 to 50.1 percent.

"These changes in Oregon unionism are yet another indication that the public sector is the growth industry for labor unions," said David Denholm, president of the Public Service Research Foundation in commenting on the detailed analysis.

"Even though only one in about every six and a half jobs are in the public sector, more than fifty percent of all union members in the Beaver State are public employees. This can only accelerate the trend toward union political influence being targeted at increases in the size and cost of government," Denholm concluded.

The Public Service Research Foundation is an independent research and education organization that studies unionism and union influence on public policy. Foundation president David Denholm is a nationally recognized expert on union activity and is a frequent speaker at meetings of civic and business associations.

Changes in Employment and Union Membership 2000 - 2001National 

Employment (Numbers in thousands)


-26- 205+ 179

Union Members (Numbers in thousands)



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics release of January 17, 2002


Employment (Numbers in thousands)




Union Members (Numbers in thousands)



Source: Current Population Survey

Technical Note: The Current Population Survey has a sample size of 50,000. The data is regarded as very accurate but it is survey data and subject to the statistical and sampling limitations of all survey data.

This report was prepared by the Public Service Research Foundation, Vienna, Virginia. For further information please call 703-242-3575.