Washington, D.C. – January 25, 2024 – North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey issued the following statement:
“This week’s released BLS data show that construction union membership rate is higher than the overall rate, but the BLS survey-generated numbers do not tell the whole story. NABTU applauds the Institute for Construction Employment Research (ICERES) for releasing a new report with more complete construction industry data. The ICERES findings reveal shortcomings in the BLS survey and provide a more accurate picture of union density.
“First, the ICERES report points out that the BLS data is drawn from the entire construction industry, which means it contains data that includes engineers, accountants and office workers, occupations that are not typically unionized. By extracting these occupations to focus on craft workers and factoring in the problem of misclassification in construction, the ICERES estimates show that union density in construction is much higher (17.9%) than the BLS estimates BLS (11.7%).
“Second, the ICERES report also examined construction union density by separating out the residential sector, where limited union contractor engagement and worker misclassification are rampant. After excluding residential construction and accounting for worker misclassification, the ICERES report estimated that union density in construction was 29.9% for skilled tradespeople, rather than the 10.7% in the BLS report.
“With its latest report, ICERES presents a more complete and nuanced picture of construction union density than the BLS report. We hope its findings, especially in specifying the limitations in the BLS study, will provide the general public and industry stakeholders with a clearer view of the role and impact of Building Trades in the contemporary construction industry.”