Union membership has declined in the private sector. The Economist wonders whether it’s time for public-sector unions (city employees, etc)  to suffer the same fate.

Sociological Images says this about the shift in union makeup.

Such a change, from primarily private-sector and often blue-collar workers to government employees, many of whom will be white-collar, middle-class, and relatively highly educated, has significant consequences for employers, governments, employees, and the issues likely to be of primary concern to the labor movement more broadly.

But before you decide how you feel about unions, think about your bankbook. Chances are, the two are linked. FiveThirtyEight says public support for unions (and support for many things) corresponds with the economy.

The regression line finds that, for every point’s worth of increase in the unemployment rate, approval of labor unions goes down by 2.6 points. Alternatively, we can add a time trend to the regression model, to account for the fact that participation in labor unions has been declining over time. This softens the relationship slightly, but still implies a decrease in approval of 2.1 points for unions for every point increase in unemployment. Both relationships are highly statistically significant.

But unionization rose during The Great Depression. How can something that thrived in poor economic times suffer in the recession? James Surowiecki answers this in The New Yorker. Heexplores the historical attitude toward (and benefits of) unionization.

Still, the advantages that union workers enjoy when it comes to pay and benefits are nothing new, while the resentment about these things is. There are a couple of reasons for this. In the past, a sizable percentage of American workers belonged to unions, or had family members who did. Then, too, even people who didn’t belong to unions often reaped some benefit from them, because of what economists call the “threat effect”: in heavily unionized industries, non-union employers had to pay their workers better in order to fend off unionization. Finally, benefits that union members won for themselves—like the eight-hour day, or weekends off—often ended up percolating down to other workers.