Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Younger Workers

For Immediate Release

Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR)
Contact: 

Alan Barber, 202-293-5380 x115

Unionization Substantially Improves the Pay and Benefits of Younger Workers

Despite being better educated, young workers have fallen farther behind over the past 30 years

WASHINGTON - In an election year that promises record numbers of young voters, a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research
(CEPR) documents a large wage and benefit advantage for young workers
in unions relative to their non-union counterparts. The report also
finds that younger workers are earning about 10 percent less than their
counterparts did in 1979, despite impressive gains in young workers'
educational attainment over the same time period.

"Even though they've done everything right -finished high school and
college at higher rates than in the past, young workers have been the
hardest hit by stagnant and declining wages over the last 30 years"
said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and the author of the study.

The report, "Unions and Upward mobility for Young Workers,"
found that young unionized workers -those age 18 to 29-- earned, on
average, 12.4 percent more than their non-union peers. In addition,
young workers in unions were much more likely to have health insurance
benefits and a pension plan.

The report, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey
(CPS), found that unionization raises the pay of young workers by about
$1.75 per hour. According to the report, young workers in unions were
also 17 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health
insurance and 24 percentage points more likely to have an
employer-provided pension plan than young workers who were not in
unions.

"Unions
make a big difference for younger workers," said Schmitt. "There is no
economic theory that says young people have to be poorly paid or go
without benefits."

According
to the study, unionization also strongly benefited young workers in
typically low-wage occupations. Among young workers in the 15
lowest-paying occupations, union members earned 10.2 percent more than
those workers who were not in unions. In the same low-wage occupations,
unionized young people were 27 percentage points more likely to have
employer-provided health insurance and 26 percentage points more likely
to have a pension plan than their non-union counterparts.
 
The full report can be found here.

Additional state-level information is available from the following:

California

Jessica Goodheart
Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)

(323) 356-1081
jgoodheart@laane.org

Nevada

Joe Edson

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Reno Office

(775) 348-7557

New York

James Parrott
Fiscal Policy Institute

212/721-5624
parrott@fiscalpolicy.org

North Carolina

John Quinterno

NC Budget & Tax Center

(919) 856-3185
john@ncjustice.org

Ohio

Amy Hanauer

Policy Matters Ohio

(216) 361-9801
ahanauer@policymattersohio.org

Pennsylvania

Mark A. Price, Ph.D.

Keystone Research Center

717-255-7181
price@keystoneresearch.org

Texas

Don Baylor

Center for Public Policy Priorities

(512) 320-0222 ext. 108
Baylor@cppp.org

Utah

Allison Rowland, PhD
Voices for Utah Children

(801) 364-1182
allison@utahchildren.org

West Virgina

Ted Boettner

West Virginia
Center on Budget & Policy

304/720.8682
tboettner@wvpolicy.org

Wyoming

Sarah Gorin

Equality State Policy Center
307-745-8594
sgorin@equalitystate.org

 

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that was established to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.

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