Gallup poll shows public approval of unions growing

Americans increasingly approve of unions, according to the latest nationwide Gallup poll, conducted July 30-August 12.

Since 1936, the Gallup organization has been asking the same question: “Do you approve or disapprove of labor unions?” This year, 65% of respondents said they approve, tying with 2003 and 1999 as the highest levels in the last 53 years. You have to go back to 1967 and earlier to find higher levels of support. The high point in union support was the 1950s, when 75% of Americans approved of unions.

The Gallup poll also breaks down responses by political ideology and party identification, age, race, gender, and education. Political ideology and party ID were the factors most strongly correlated with union approval. Fully 84% of those who described themselves as liberal approve of unions, along with 74% of moderates, but just 43% of those who described themselves as conservative. Self-described Democrats were mostly like to approve of unions, at 83%, followed by independents (64%) and Republicans (45%).

Of all demographic categories, support for unions was highest among the young: 71% of those 18-34, compared to 63% of those in other age groups. Non-white respondents approved of unions by 70%, compared with whites at 64%. College grads support unions at 68%, followed by those with a high school diploma or less (65%) and those with some college (62%). Women were slightly more likely to approve of unions—67%—compared to 63% of men.

The poll consisted of a random sample of 1,031 adults in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

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