It’s no accident that the decline in union membership in the US took place at the same time as a massive increase in income inequality. With this increase in income inequality, there has been a steep drop in economic mobility. In the US, a child born in the bottom 20% of the population income-wise has only a 7.5% chance of making the top 20% as an adult. In Canada, such a child would have a 13.4% chance of moving to the top 20%.
The picture gets more interesting when looking at different parts of the US, per research from economists at Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley. Some areas of the US have similar degrees of mobility to Canada, while others have some of the lowest mobility in the developed world. One clear relationship the researchers found was union membership. Simply having high union membership in an area helps social mobility and income levels even if a child’s own parents are not union members.
“The relationship between increases in union membership on the one hand, and improvements in income inequality and social mobility on the other illustrates why more Americans see union membership as a positive choice, for their futures and those of their families.” Sr. National Rep, UWUA