MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Unions have been in decline in the United States for years as states, like Florida, became right-to-work states. Last year, union membership fell to its lowest level since the 1930’s with just 11.3 percent of workers in unions.

According to the New York Times, the total number of union members declined by 400,000 to 14.366 million across the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said union membership for private-sector workers dropped to just 6.6 in 2012.

The decline in union membership comes as income inequality hits record level while average wages for workers remain flat.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by 275 percent for the top 1 percent of households in the U.S. By comparison, the bottom 20 percent saw income grow by just 18 percent during the same time.

The Economic Policy Institute found that CEO compensation increased from 1978 to 2011 by 726.7 percent, nearly doubling the increase in the S&P 500 during that time frame. During the same time period, the EPI found that annual compensation for average workers grew by just 5.7 percent.

Union officials said employee fears of layoffs in a very depressed economic recovery make it difficult to unionize many places, according to the Times.

The BLS said the states with the lowest unionization rate was North Carolina at 2.9 percent followed by Arkansas at 3.2 percent and South Carolina at 3.3 percent. On the flip side, New York had the highest unionization rate at 23.2 percent followed by Alaska at 22.4 percent and Hawaii at 21.6 percent.


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