A new Gallup poll being touted by Big Labor reports support for unions has reached newfound popularity since 1965.
The annual Work and Education survey, conducted between August 1-23, finds a whopping 71% of Americans now approve labor unions—up from 68% in 2021.
But here’s an interesting revelation: The same survey found a majority of non-unionized workers have no intention of joining a union, despite their alleged touted benefits.
58% of non-union respondents said they’re “not interested at all” in joining a union, compared to 11% that said they’re “extremely interested.”
Moreover, the survey also found that union workers (27%) are “less engaged” in the workplace compared to their non-unionized counterparts (33%).
Gallup further explains “employee engagement as the involvement in and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace. The engagement gap between union and nonunion workers could be significant to employers because highly engaged employees tend to be substantially more productive, less likely to leave and safer at work than their less engaged counterparts, and they tend to have better personal wellbeing.”
The New York Times confesses marketing campaigns play an outsized role in shaping opinion, writing, “The high approval rating may be in part because of increased awareness of union activity thanks to media coverage of prominent organizing efforts.”
But do economic trends match this? Hardly. The U.S. unionized workforce continues to shrink, comprising just 10.3% of workers. In contrast, the freelance workforce is 59 million members strong, or 36% of the workforce, with no stop in growth in sight. By 2027, it’s estimated over 50% of the workforce, or 86.5 million workers, will participate in the freelance economy.
As I noted here at IWF, non-union wages continue to outpace union wages:
The BLS’s June 2022 Employment Cost Index revealed total wage and benefits costs for private sector jobs rose 5.5% from June 2021 to June 2022. Non-unionized workers saw their wages and salaries increase 6%, compared to a 3.4% wage increase for unionized workers.
Moreover, American workers are increasingly seeking out non-unionized, freelance options—not unionized, traditional jobs.
McKinskey’s August 2022 American Opportunity Survey found that independent workers, which comprise 36% of the workforce, are an “underreported and understudied segment of the economy.”
The survey examined the rise of freelance work and narrowed it down as follows:
The increase in the percentage of the working population identifying themselves as independents may be due to several factors. Digital platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, and Upwork have allowed a larger pool of workers to be matched with consumers. To weather volatility during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have shifted to a more agile workforce made up of more independent workers. Finally, layoffs during the pandemic and cost-of-living issues may have pushed a larger number of workers to become independent workers, either because they have been unable to find permanent employment or because the pay they received in their primary employment has been insufficient.
MBO Partners also found that the share of independent contractors making six figures ($100,000 or more) annually rose from 3 million in 2020 to 3.8 million in 2021. The survey also found the newly independent workers were increasingly female with 55% identified as female in 2021—up from 46% in 2020.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research found the pandemic gave rise to self-employed workers who are female and non-white.
Corporations are increasingly hiring contingent workers, including independent contractors, because they are “meeting temporary workload needs, increasing productivity, getting tasks done more quickly and getting access to specialized skills and hard-to-hire talent.”
John Stossel, writing at Reason Magazine, reminds readers that free enterprise—not unions—built the American middle class, writing, “Workers’ lives improved in America mostly because of competition, not union rules. Competition is what does the most for workers.”
A single poll showing glowing approval for unionized work doesn’t paint the full picture of the U.S. workforce. It’s imperative to examine where workers are setting their sights on: high-paying, flexible work arrangements.