The State of Labor and Employment in Massachusetts

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David Pihl

Jasmine Kerrissey

Tom Juravich


Executive Summary

This report explores the state of labor and employment in Massachusetts. We examine the changing nature of employment, unionization rates, the union wage difference between union and non-union workers, union organizing activity, and a number of union campaigns from the past year. Key findings include:

  • The employment landscape in Massachusetts has changed significantly over 10 years, with an increase in employment in the service and business sectors, and a decrease in manufacturing and other traditional blue collar jobs.
  • The number of union members in Massachusetts remains higher than the national average, particularly in the public sector.
  • Massachusetts has substantially higher unionization rates in Transportation, Education and Public Services than the national average.
  • Union membership in Massachusetts is higher than the national average among Latina/os, African Americans and workers with a high school degree or less.
  • The union difference in wages between union and non-union workers remains substantial, with a statewide average of approximately $4.00 an hour.
  • Unions have engaged in significant organizing efforts over the past ten years, bringing in over 30,000 new members to unions through elections.
  • Massachusetts’ unions and their community allies are important to securing secure dignity and respect for all workers. We highlight five campaigns from 2016 that illustrate how unions are on the forefront of positive change for workers in our state.

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