American workers don't go on strike as much as they used to

Even though a huge lockout has gotten national attention while shutting down most shipping on the West Coast, the incidence of major work stoppages has plummeted in recent decades.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics recently released its annual figures on the number of employee strikes and employer lockouts for 2014. Only 11 work stoppages, including both strikes and lockouts, involving at least 1,000 workers began in 2014, tied with 2010 for the second lowest number on record.

Major strikes and lockouts used to be a common part of American labour dynamics, reaching a high point of 470 major work stoppages begun in 1952. The last several decades have also seen a big drop in rates of private sector union membership, dropping from about a quarter of private employees in the early 1970s to single digit percentages in the 2000s, according to data from

The big drop off in work stoppages starting in the 1970s is pretty clear from the BLS data:

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