The percentage of workers belonging to unions in 2014 declined slightly from the previous year, according to new federal estimates.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest Current Population Survey -- which sampled 60,000 households -- found 11.1 percent of wage and salary workers were members of unions last year, which would amount to 14.6 million workers nationally.
The 2013 survey showed 11.3 percent of workers belonging to unions and a similar overall union worker population. The numbers, however, reflect a continuing slide in the percentage of union workers nationwide. In 1983, just over 20 percent of workers belonged to unions, for a total of 17.7 million union members.
Of the estimated 14.6 million union members last year, just over half -- 7.4 million -- belonged to private-sector unions. Only 6.6 percent of overall private sector workers, however, belonged to a union; the public-sector unionization percentage, at 35.7 percent, was more than five times higher.
The highest percentage of public-sector workers involved in unions went to local government employees -- including teachers, police officers and firefighters -- at nearly 42 percent. In the private sector, the utilities sector saw the highest rate of unionization at 22.3 percent, followed by transportation and warehousing and 19.6 percent and telecommunications at 14.8 percent.
The BLS numbers showed a larger percentage of men belong to unions than women, but the 1.2 percent gap between them has narrowed dramatically over the last three decades. They also showed black workers were more likely to belong to unions than white, Asian or Hispanic workers.
The bureau, meanwhile, also reported non-union workers earned 79 percent of the media weekly earnings of union members, though it cautioned the statistics "do not control for many factors that can be important in explaining earnings differences."
Among individual states, those with the highest and lowest percentage of union workers remained the same, with New York and 24.6 percent and North Carolina at 1.2 percent. Each of the states reporting the lowest rates of union representation resided in the American South, where "right-to-work" laws that prohibit requiring employees to join union are prevalent.
A number of additional states, meanwhile, are considering right-to-work legislation amid gains by Republicans in state legislatures last fall.