A new Gallup survey reveals, “U.S. Approval of Labor Unions Remains Near Record Low,” with a topline finding that only 52 percent of Americans approve of unions, the second lowest percentage in the 70 years the organization has studied the issue.

Another striking result: Forty percent of Americans want labor unions to have less influence, 27 percent the same, and 29 percent more.

Gallup finds these implications:

Labor unions are less popular now in the United States than they have been for most of the last 70 years. One reason for this could be the economic downturn. With many Americans out of work and struggling to find work, organized labor groups’ missions may not seem appropriate or even fair as they might have when jobs are more plentiful. There is some precedence for an economic-related downturn in union approval, as Gallup found a mild drop in union approval during the late 1970s and early 1980s when the U.S. economy was in poor shape.

The more negative appraisal of unions the last two years could be due to the belief from union opponents that unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration, including recent legislation providing aid to states that will preserve thousands of education and public sector jobs.

You don’t really have to be a union opponent to believe that “unions are likely to benefit or are benefitting from the policies of the Obama administration.” You can reasonably draw that conclusion from reading President Obama’s recent speech to the AFL-CIO executive council.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit)