Poll: Support for Labor Unions Strong in N.J., Especially Among Young People

Galloway, N.J. — After a season of labor unrest dubbed “the summer of strikes,” support for organized labor unions remains strong in New Jersey, a Stockton University poll released today found.

Two-thirds of New Jersey residents said their sympathies in the disputes of the past year have been on the side of striking workers compared to 15% who said they sided with employers and about the same rate (16%) who were not sure.

A majority (64%) have a positive view of labor unions, while 21% said they have an unfavorable impression and 13% are not sure. A little more than one-third (35%) want to see labor unions have more influence than they have today or the same amount of influence (also 35%). About one in five (21%) want unions to have less influence.

The poll of 630 New Jersey adults released by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy has a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.

Though union membership remains low compared to its heyday, with the latest high-profile strikes and young people driving union support, there are signs that the labor movement could gain momentum."

Alyssa Maurice, Hughes Center research associate
Some high-profile strikes this year included Hollywood writers and actors, auto workers in Detroit, and faculty at Rutgers University and the ongoing nurses strike at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. Despite this recent activity though, the share of American workers who are union members continues to decline.

“The labor market remains tight post-pandemic, leaving many places of work short-staffed, but also empowering workers with more leverage,” said Research Associate Alyssa Maurice. “On top of that, people are now grappling with inflation. These conditions are fueling the unrest we saw play out this year.”

Opinions were divided sharply along partisan lines, with Democrats far more supportive of labor unions than Republicans, and Independents landing in the middle. For example, majorities of 86% of Democrats and 65% of Independents were on the side of striking workers in recent disputes, while 41% of Republicans said the same. Notably though, young people, among all party affiliations, were more supportive of labor unions than their older ideological counterparts aged 50 and up.

“Though union membership remains low compared to its heyday, with the latest high-profile strikes and young people driving union support, there are signs that the labor movement could gain momentum,” Maurice said.

“Support for unions by young people are driven by the same desire for a decent wage and the ability to raise a family that has fueled the labor movement from its beginning,” added Hughes Center Director John Froonjian.

You can find the full poll resultshere.


The poll of New Jersey adults was conducted by the Stockton Polling Institute of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy from October 9-18, 2023. Stockton University students texted cell phones with invitations to take the survey online and Opinion Services supplemented the dialing portion of the fieldwork, which consisted of cell and landline telephone calls. Overall, 92% of interviews were conducted on cell phones and 8% on landline phones. In terms of mode, 79% were reached via dialing and 21% were reached via text-to-web. A total of 630 New Jersey adult residents were interviewed. Both cell and landline samples consisted of New Jersey voter list and random digit dialing (RDD) sample from MSG. Data are weighted based on U.S. Census Bureau ACS 2021 data for New Jersey on variables of age, race, education level, and sex. The poll's margin of error is +/- 3.9 percentage points at a 95% confidence level. MOE is higher for subsets.

About the Hughes Center

The William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University serves as a catalyst for research, analysis and innovative policy solutions on the economic, social and cultural issues facing New Jersey, and promotes the civic life of New Jersey through engagement, education and research. The center is named for the late William J. Hughes, whose distinguished career includes service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Ambassador to Panama and as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Stockton. The Hughes Center can be found on YouTube, and can be followed on Facebook @StocktonHughesCenter and X @hughescenter.

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