Support of labor unions has ebbed and flowed in the U.S. since President Grover Cleveland signed legislation establishing Labor Day as a federal holiday in 1894.
Approval of unions among U.S. adults ticked upward again this year, according to a Gallup report published Aug. 28, rising two points to 64%.
This is the highest support level since 2003 (65%) and the third year in a row that approval was above 60%.
Since Gallup began polling about labor unions in 1936, approval has ranged from a high of 75% in 1952 to a low of 48% in 2009.
The report noted correlations between higher union support during periods of low unemployment and lower support during economic downturns.
Democrats were most likely to express support for unions (82% did so this year), followed by independents (61%) and Republicans (45%).
All parties saw increased support from 2009: Independents’ affirmation increased 17 percentage points, while both Democrats and Republicans saw a 16-point increase.
Women (66%) were more likely than men (61%) to support unions, and non-white respondents (68%) were more likely than white respondents (61%) to do so.
Union approval decreased with age – moving from 67% support among 18- to 34-year-olds to 64% (35-54) to 61% (55 and older) – and increased with education – rising from 58% approval among respondents with a high school degree or less than 66% among those with some college and 68% among college graduates.
The full report is available here.