Indicator of the extent of unionization in relation to the size of the available labour force. Its measurement differs, depending on how the two concepts “member” and “labour force” are interpreted. The information given here therefore takes the number of employees in jobs as the reference quantity and differentiates between recorded membership (gross union density) and employed membership (net union density).

In Austria, annual figures are available only for gross union density. They are given in Table 5 at the end of the Glossary and show that the figure has dropped from over 60% in the 1950s to around 50% towards the end of the 1990s. Since the ÖGB's membership figures do not differentiate between members who are in active employment and those who are not, only estimates are possible for net union density; these show a fall from around 58% in 1970 to around 43% in 1995. The widening gap between gross and net union density indicates that the proportion of members who are not in active employment (particularly retired workers) has risen over the years. Taking the net union density figure for 1995 as a basis, unionization is above average in the public service (75%), among manual workers in manufacturing industry (76%) and among male manual workers in general (51%); it is below average in the private service sector, among white-collar workers and among women in general. The fact that these latter three areas are the ones whose share of total employment has been growing over the long term, while in the strongholds of unionization employment has declined, reveals a problem in union recruitment. It is estimated that the long-term structural transformation of the economy and employment accounts for some two thirds of the decline in net union density.

Please note: the European industrial relations glossaries were compiled between 1991 and 2003 and are not updated. For current material see the European industrial relations dictionary.