What would income inequality look like today if union density had remained at 1973 levels?

From Kevin Drum | Mother Jones:

[What would] income inequality look like if union density had remained at its 1973 level.

…Among men, if you account only for the effect of individual membership in unions, it would be about a fifth lower, which agrees pretty well with previous estimates. But if you also account for the effect of unions on surrounding nonunion employers (who often raised wages to compete with union employers and to avert the threat of unionization in their own workplace), the effect is larger: Unionization at 1973 levels would decrease income inequality by a full third. You can see this in the chart below. For intragroup differences (which account for nearly the entire effect of unionization) the top line shows the actual rise of income inequality since 1973, while the red line is a prediction of what it would look like if union density were still at 1973 levels:

The effect of unionization on women is less dramatic because women were never unionized at the same rate as men. For them, increasing returns to education are a bigger factor in rising income inequality than deunionization. For men, however, deunionization has had a huge impact: “The decline of the US labor movement has added as much to men’s wage inequality as has the relative increase in pay for college graduates,” the authors say.

The teaparty Republican voter base, the majority of whom are at or near retirement age and who already receive their monthly government paycheck and benefits, are well past the heady days of unionization and the helpful effects it had on all other jobs across the national spectrum (i.e. equalizing pay and benefits). No more middle-class or middle-class jobs? Not the teabaggers’ problem. Anymore.


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