Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

25 January, 2007

Digging deeper (or, Wallowing in the pig sty of statistics)

A little digging on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, and my wish was granted. Here's a linky-loo to today's BLS press release, chock full of all sorts of information to geek out over.

One of the first things to catch my eye was the roughly 10:1 fullee/fairee ratio (15.4 million union members, 1.5 million workers represented by unions but not members). This number is actually kind of a head scratcher for me. First, that 10:1 ratio seems remarkably high to me (and maybe I'm really misinterpreting the number, which is probably why I didn't pursue quantitative analysis very vigorously). My first guess was that there would be wild variations between occupational and industrial categories, but the ratio remained remarkably stable across categories. It does vary across states, however, unsurprisingly correlating with "right-to-work" laws. I suppose if there's anything to be gleaned from these numbers, it's that when workplaces become organized, the density of membership within those bargaining units seems to be fairly high.

To get the official word on a little car-ride trivia with lexdexter and Chicago Nick:
The largest numbers of union members lived in California (2.3 million) and New York (2.0 million). Just under half (7.5 million) of the 15.4 million union members in the U.S. lived in six states (California, 2.3 million; New York, 2.0 million; Illinois, 0.9 million; Michigan, 0.8 million; New Jersey, 0.8 million; and Pennsylvania, 0.7 million), though these states accounted for about one-third of wage and salary employment nationally.

Does anyone want to explain Alaska's third-highest union density rate? Government employees and petroleum workers? We know it's not fishing.

Looking at our own little neck of the woods, Oregon lost roughly 2000 union members and 6000 union jobs over the last year (no breakdown as to which job categories these were). I'm wondering how much of this loss was attributable to busting weak unions as opposed to more structural explanations.

The wage data is again unsurprising, showing that union workers across the board out-earn their non-union counterparts, in some sectors by as much as 30%.

I'm sure there's more to play with here, but the printout I have is very tiny and it hurts my eyes. I s'pose I should reward you for indulging my nerdy stats side. Here's a cute puppy:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Now wasn't that worth it?

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