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Good Graph Friday: Unions aren't that popular, but neither are businesses

Feb. 18, 2011 at 7:43 AM ET

Pew Research /

Americans’ view of labor unions is near the lowest level in a quarter century -- but corporations aren’t doing so hot, either.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press finds that 45 percent of Americans have a favorable view of unions, while 47 percent have a favorable view of corporations.

The popularity of both has slumped in recent years, amid the weak economy and high unemployment.

Unions are actually slightly more popular than a year ago, when just 41 percent of Americans viewed them favorably. But their popularity has dropped considerably from 2001, when 63 percent of Americans saw them in a favorably light.

In this year’s survey, more than half of respondents said unions have a positive effect on salaries and benefits of union workers, and working conditions for everyone. But about one-third thought unions have a negative effect on the availability of good jobs in America and the ability of American companies to compete globally.

Businesses reached a recent high in popularity in 1999, according to Pew’s data, when 73 percent viewed them favorably. But it has stayed at 47 percent since 2008, at the early part of the recession.

The data is based on a survey of 1,385 adults completed earlier this month.

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