Unions are gradually vanishing in the United States.

According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of unionized American workers dropped to 11.9 percent from 12.3 percent, with the loss of 612,000 members in 2010.
In 2008, unions lost 771,000 workers.

The decline of the size and power of unions has been a long-term trend – in 1950, more than one-third of U.S. workers belonged to unions.

In the private sector, union membership dropped to 6.9 percent (an all-time low) from 7.2 percent.

The construction industry, which has been shattered by the housing market collapse and suffers from a 20 percent unemployment rats, witnessed the steepest decline in union membership.

Public employment unions had a 1.2 percent decline, due primarily to job eliminations in state and local governments.

In the absence of federal support for state and local governments, public sector cutbacks will continue to depress the overall union membership rate, said Ben Zipperer, a senior research associate of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

2011 should see even more faces removed from union halls, given how so many states facing multi-billion-dollar deficits will likely cut more state jobs. The incoming Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, for example, is considering removing 15,000 state workers.

Ironically, New York had the highest unionization rate of any state, 24.2 percent. North Carolina had the lowest unionization rate (3.2 percent) with Arkansas and George tied for the second lowest (4 percent).

“It was a very tough year for unionized workers,” said John Schmitt, a senior economist with the Center for Economic Policy Research in Washington. “We’re seeing declines in the private sector, and we’re seeing declines in the public sector.”