There are sharp partisan divisions in views of labor unions. Overall, 55% of Americans say labor unions positively affect the country, while 41% say they have a negative impact. These views are little changed in recent years.

Chart shows Democrats are more than twice as likely as Republicans to say labor unions have a positive impact on the country

By roughly three-to-one (75% positive to 23% negative), Democrats have a positive view of labor unions. Republicans are about half as likely as Democrats to view unions positively; 35% of Republicans say unions are having a positive impact, compared with 61% who view unions negatively.

Within each party, there are ideological differences in evaluations of labor unions. Liberal Democrats are 20 percentage points more likely than moderate and conservative Democrats to say unions are having a positive effect (86% vs. 66%). And moderate and liberal Republicans are 26 points more likely than conservative Republicans to say this (52% vs. 26%).

Union members

Union members (74%) are far more likely than those who do not belong to a union (53%) to view labor unions positively.

Last year, a majority of Americans (58%) said the long-term decline in union membership was a bad thing for the country. Union membership has fallen by roughly half over the last four decades. Currently, about one-in-ten adults (11%) report being members of a union.