Charts of the Day: Being in a union raises a woman’s pay by 12.9 percent

chart of health insurance advantage of union membership by education level

Hey ladies, you may need a PhD to earn as much as a dude with a BA, but being in a union could be worth a year of college in terms of a wage boost. According to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, unionization has a big impact on women’s economic well-being. 

Unionized women workers on average make 12.9 percent more than their non-union counterparts, are 36.8 percent more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and 53.4 percent more likely to have participated in an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

ThinkProgress points out that the increase in women’s wages from being in a union is about a quarter of the increase that a college degree gives you. And the benefits of unionization are particularly strong for women with lower levels of education. As the chart above shows, women without a high school diploma are 104 percent more likely to get health insurance in they’re in a union. “In fact,” CEPR reports, “for a woman with a high school degree, being in or represented by a union raises her likelihood of having health insurance or a retirement plan by more than earning a four-year college degree would.”

And while women are now close to making up their fair share of unions, union membership overall has fallen off over the last decades. And that’s bad for everyone.

unionization rate for men and women over time

Maya DusenberyMaya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/dave1/ Dave

    Perhaps the reasons behind these trends bear pointing out. Women’s unionization rate is catching up to men’s because public sector unions are expanding (and women are well-represented in the public sector), while the traditional (and mostly male) private sector manufacturing unions have been rapidly losing members for 35 years.

    And the union wage premium for women is much larger than it is for men, which makes sense. Unions bring transparency to wage scales, as well as objective criteria for getting raises, which reduces wage discrimination. So women in unionized jobs get a double benefit from being in a union; they get the union premium, plus they also get less pay discrimination.