RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The number of unionized workers in Virginia fell by 4,000 last year and is nearing its lowest level in three decades.
A report released Wednesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows 159,000 union members, or about 4.4 percent of the work force, employed in the state in 2012. That's down from 4.6 percent in 2011.
The bureau says that nationally, membership dropped last year from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of the work force. That's the lowest level since the 1930s. The decline happened as cash-strapped state and local governments shed workers and unions faced challenges organizing new members.
Virginia's union membership has generally declined annually and has remained below the national rate since state data were available in 1989. That year, the state rate was 9.1 percent.
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