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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Generating the Wealth of Nations 15: Union Membership in the United States

This chart shows union membership in the US as a percentage of the non-farm labor force.  Until 1935, US law generally did not protect the right of workers to belong to unions.  Indeed, until 1932, and the passage of the Norris-LaGuardia Act (, firms could, and some did, require workers to affirm that they were not union members, as a precondition of employment.  After the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) passed in 1935, union membership grew rapidly, peaking at over 35% of the non-farm labor force in the late 1950s.

(Click to enalrge.  Source: Walton and Rockoff, An Economic History of the United States.)


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