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Unions and Upward Mobility for Asian American and Pacific Islander Workers

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are, with Latinos, the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. workforce. In 2009, Asian American and Pacific Islanders were one of every 20 U.S. workers, up from one in 40 only 20 years earlier. AAPIs, again with Latinos, are also the fastest growing ethnic group in organized labor, accounting for just under one-in-20 unionized workers in 2009.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) are, with Latinos, the fastest growing ethnic group in the U.S. workforce. In 2009, Asian American and Pacific Islanders were one of every 20 U.S. workers, up from one in 40 only 20 years earlier. AAPIs, again with Latinos, are also the fastest growing ethnic group in organized labor, accounting for just under one-in-20 unionized workers in 2009. Even after controlling for workers’ characteristics including age, education level, industry, and state, unionized AAPI workers earn about 14.3 percent more than non-unionized AAPI workers with similar characteristics. This translates to about $2.50 per hour more for unionized AAPI workers. Unionized AAPI workers are also about 16 percentage points more likely to have health insurance and about 22 percentage points more likely to have a retirement plan than their non-union counterparts.

A new CEPR report updates an earlier study on the benefits of unionization for Asian American and pacific islander workers and finds among other things:

* about one-in-eight (12.5 percent) of Asian American and Pacific Islander workers were in a union or represented by a union at their workplace

  • almost half (48.8 percent) of AAPI workers in unions were women
  • in 2003-2009, on average, two-thirds (67.0 percent) of unionized AAPI workers were immigrants
  • half (50.5 percent) of unionized AAPI workers had a four year college degree or more
  • more than four-in-ten (43.4 percent) unionized Asian American and Pacific Islander workers were in the public sector
  • unionized AAPI workers are heavily concentrated in several states, with about six-of-ten (60.0 percent) in the Pacific states and about four-in-ten (40.5 percent) in California alone

Read the full report here.

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