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Labor union approval in U.S. best since 2003. But not among Republicans

Staff Writer |
In the U.S., 61% of adults say they approve of labor unions, the highest percentage since the 65% approval recorded in 2003.

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The current labor union approval is up five percentage points from last year and is 13 points above the all-time low found in 2009.

Eighty-one percent of Democrats approve of unions this year - significantly higher than the 42% of Republicans who approve. This disparity is not as stark as it was in 2011 when Republican approval was 26% and Democratic approval was 78%.

Unions have regained popularity since bottoming out at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009.

That survey marked the first and only time in Gallup's trend dating back to 1936 that support for unions was below 50%.

Historically, unions have enjoyed strong support from the American public.

In 1936, 72% of Americans approved of labor unions. Union approval peaked in the 1950s when it reached 75% in 1953 and 1957.

Approval remained in the 60% range throughout the 2000s, right up to the election of Barack Obama as president.

After plummeting in 2009, union approval remained lower than in its heyday but began climbing.

Democratic approval of unions has been fairly steady over time, while the approval levels of independents and Republicans have fluctuated.

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