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Despite Attacks on Labor, Public Support of Unions Growing: Poll

New Gallup numbers indicate a jump of five points from lowest public support of unions in 2009

Americans are coming back around on unions, just in time for the 2016 presidential election. (Photo: Sasha Kimel/flickr/cc)

Nearly six in 10 Americans have a positive view of labor unions, signifying growing support for workers that has increased by five points since its lowest numbers in 2009, according to new polling.

A Gallup poll conducted in early August found that 58 percent of Americans overall approve of labor unions, with 37 percent in favor of them having a stronger influence in U.S. politics—a big increase from its lowest numbers six years ago. Meanwhile, those who want unions to have less influence has dropped to 35 percent, down from 42 percent in 2009.

Despite that growing support, however, the majority of Americans believe that union power is weakening, the survey found.

Public support of organized labor was at its historic peak in 1936, when 72 percent of Americans viewed unions favorably. Numbers began to dwindle in the late '70s, and went up and down over time, but never reaching higher than 66 percent support in the late '90s. In 2009, only 48 percent of Americans supported labor unions.

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According to Gallup, the jump in support stems from an improved economy and a more distant view of the 2008 government bailout of American car companies.

The support came largely from the left side of the partisan divide, with 79 percent of Democrats saying they support unions. As for what the results may indicate for the 2016 presidential election, Politico writes:

The latest results come as Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fight to win the endorsements of prominent unions.

Last week, the former secretary of state gained the support of both the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the American Federation of Teachers, while National Nurses United declared that it was backing the Vermont senator.

The results are part of Gallup's annual Work and Education Survey, for which the polling company interviewed 1,011 adults living in all 50 states.

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