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On average, just over 4.2 million employees belonged to a union in Canada during the first half of 2010, up 64,000 from the same period last year.

Union membership rose at a slightly faster pace than total employment. As a result, the nation's unionization rate edged up from 29.5% in 2009 to 29.6% in 2010.

The average number of paid employees during the first half of 2010 reached 14.3 million, up by 171,000 over the same period last year.

The gap in unionization rates between men and women widened slightly in 2010. Women experienced disproportionately more gains in unionized jobs. Consequently, their unionization rate inched up to 30.9%, while the rate for men remained constant at 28.2%.

Just over 2.2 million women belonged to a union in 2010, compared with just under 2.0 million men.

The unionization rate for permanent employees increased to 30.0% between 2009 and 2010, while it decreased to 27.3% for those in non-permanent jobs. The rate rose in larger firms (100 employees or more), declined among those with 20 to 99 employees, and remained constant for firms with fewer than 20 employees.

The provincial picture was more mixed. Unionization rates fell in four provinces: Nova Scotia, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Alberta. The largest gain in rates occurred in British Columbia, while the rate was highest in Newfoundland and Labrador (37.9%).

Among industries, rates were highest in public administration (68.5%) and education (67.0%). Notable declines occurred in agriculture, health care and social assistance, and education. Notable increases occurred in transportation and warehousing, and public administration.

An average of 288,000 employees were not union members, but were covered by a collective agreement in the first half of 2010, down from last year's total of 300,000.

In 2009, there were 157 strikes or lockouts that involved a loss in working time of at least 10 person-days. This was the second lowest number on record. At the same time, 67,000 workers were involved in these strikes or lockouts, and just under 2.2 million person-days in working time were lost — the highest number of days lost since 2005.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3701.

"Unionization 2010" is now available in the October 2010 online edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income, Vol. 11, no. 10 (75-001-X, free), from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this update, contact Sharanjit Uppal (613-951-3887;, Labour Statistics Division.

Also available in this edition of Perspectives on Labour and Income is the article "Offshorability and wages in the service sector." This study examines whether offshorable service-sector occupations and other comparable occupations have displayed similar wage growth since the late 1990s. It found that although about one-quarter of service-sector jobs are potentially offshorable, there is little systematic evidence that wages grew faster or slower in these types of jobs.

For more information on this article, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact René Morissette (613-951-3608; rené, Social Analysis Division.

For more information on Perspectives on Labour and Income, contact Ted Wannell (613-951-3546;, Labour Statistics Division.