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It’s official: Unions help build greater wealth

New analysis finds working-class union households hold four times the wealth as nonunion counterparts


The following is from the Center for American Progress:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2023) — Many Americans today struggle with low levels of savings, but unions offer working families a viable path to improving their financial well-being. Wealth is the difference between what people own and what they owe in debt, and building and maintaining wealth is crucial for families. Wealth allows workers to cover expenses during emergencies or periods of joblessness; put money toward purchasing a home or raising children; and fund a comfortable retirement. Unions may help families build wealth not only through increased income but also better job stability, benefits, and training.

A Center for American Progress analysis of the effects of union membership on wealth shows that being part of a union is associated with greater wealth for working-class families—defined as households without a four-year college degree—and especially working-class families of color. Because of this effect, unions are a crucial means for building wealth among the working class and reducing racial wealth gaps for workers without four-year college degrees. The key findings of this report include:

●  Working-class union households hold nearly four times as much median wealth ($201,240) as the typical working-class nonunion household ($52,221), suggesting that membership vastly increases wealth for working-class families.

●  Union membership helps close the wealth gap between working class and college-educated households. While the median wealth of working-class nonunion households is just 17 percent that of college-educated nonunion households, the median wealth of working-class union households is 67 percent that of college-educated nonunion households.

●  Union membership is tied to large dollar gains for all workers, but working families of color enjoy the largest percentage of gains. White working-class union families hold more than three times as much wealth as working-class nonunion households, while Black families hold more than four times as much wealth, nonwhite Hispanic families more than five times as much wealth, and families of other or multiple races or ethnicities have in excess of seven times as much wealth.

●  Working-class families of all races and ethnicities are far more likely to own their own homes when part of a union.

Prior research by the Center for American Progress Action Fund has established that union membership significantly increases wealth for all households, and CAP research has shown that unions also narrow racial wealth gaps. This analysis builds on previous evidence to show that greater wealth for union households extends to the divide between working-class and college-educated Americans.

Read the full report from the Center for American Progress.


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