Trade union membership

Latest release

Trade union membership by employment and socio-demographic characteristics such as full-time/part-time, age, industry, occupation, education, earnings

Reference period
August 2022
Next release 9/12/2024

Key statistics

  • 12.5% of employees (1.4 million) were trade union members.
  • Since 1992, the proportion of employees who were trade union members has fallen from 41% to 12.5%.
  • The Education and training industry (30%) and the Professionals occupation group (19%) had the highest rates of trade union membership.

Other topics

Statistics from the Characteristics of Employment survey are also published in three other topic-based releases.

Microdata and TableBuilder

Characteristics of Employment microdata for 2014 to 2022 will be available in TableBuilder and DataLab from 16 December 2022. For more information, refer to Microdata and TableBuilder: Characteristics of Employment.

Trade union members

There were 1.4 million trade union members in August 2022. 10.8% of part-time employees were trade union members compared to 13.3% who worked in full-time jobs.

Trade union membership
Full-time (%)Part-time (%)Total (%)

Trade union membership tends to increase with age. In August 2022 only 2% of employees aged 15-19 years and 5% aged 20-24 were trade union members. This increased to 19% for employees aged 55-59 and 21% for employees aged 60-64.

Trade union membership over time

Of the 11.4 million employees in August 2022, 12.5% were a member of a trade union in their main job. This is a decrease from the 14.3% recorded in August 2020.

Trade union membership has generally declined since 1992. From 1992 to 2022, the proportion of employees who were trade union members has fallen from 41.1% to 12.5% (from 45.5% to 11.4% for men and 35.9% to 13.6% for women).

Data for 1976-1988 sourced from Trade Union Members.

Duration of membership

The majority of trade union members held membership for 5 years or more.

Women made up a greater proportion of trade union membership (54%) than men (46%).

Duration of trade union membership
Fewer than 5 years ('000)5 years or more ('000)Total ('000)


The industries with the highest proportion of employees who were trade union members were:

  • Education and training (30%)
  • Public administration and safety (23%)
  • Electricity, gas, water and waste services (22%).


The occupations which recorded the highest proportion of employees who were Trade Union members were:

  • Professionals (19%)
  • Machinery operators and drivers (17%)
  • Community and Personal Service Workers (15%).

Data is coded to ANZSCO ver 1.2. For more information on Occupations and Skill level, refer to ANZSCO - Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations

Educational attainment

Trade union membership was considerably more prevalent for employed people with a Graduate diploma or Graduate certificate (23%), than for other qualifications. The most common fields of study were Health (41%) and Education (35%).

Trade union membership was lowest amongst those without non-school qualifications (9%).

For more information on educational attainment, refer to Australian Standard Classification of Education (ASCED)

State and territory

Tasmania had the highest proportion (20%) of employees who were trade union members, while New South Wales and the ACT had the lowest (12% and 9% respectively).


The median weekly earnings for employees who were trade union members in their main job were $1,520 per week, compared with $1,208 for employees who were not a trade union member.


Job characteristics

Of the employees who were trade union members only 7% were casual employees (employees without paid leave entitlements).

Table title
 Trade union member in main jobNot a trade union member in main jobTotal employees
Without paid leave entitlements99.17%2,559.626%2,658.723%
Less than 12 months in main job151.311%2,806.528%2,957.826%
Does not expect to remain in main job for next 12 months116.58%1,114.211%1,230.711%
Not guaranteed a minimum number of weekly hours151.411%2,194.622%2,346.021%


Data downloads

Trade union membership

Data files

Historical downloads

Table 3 - Median Earning for employees by duration (length) of current trade union membership, 2014-2021

Previous catalogue number

This release uses ABS catalogue number 6335.0*.

Prior to 2020, statistics were published in:


*Note: Catalogue number 6336.0 was previously used Working Conditions, Australia, Feb to May 1979. 

**Note: Catalogue number 6333.0 was previously used for Working Conditions, Australia (Preliminary), Feb to May 1979. 

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