More union members now work for the government than for private employers, partly because of layoffs caused by the recession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says union membership in the private sector plummeted by 10 percent last year. Overall union membership declined by 771,000 workers last year to 15.3 million. The membership rate fell to 12.3 percent of all workers in 2009 from 12.4 percent the previous year. The drop was offset slightly by a gain of 64,000 members in local, state and federal government. Those workers now make up 51.5 percent of all union members. Union membership has declined steadily since its peak of about 35 percent of workers in the 1950s, and the recession quickened the pace.
For more on government employees and how they are causing deficits and crushing budgets, read Steven Greenhut's Reason magazine cover story "Class War."