The percentage of workers in New York with union membership held steady last year due to an overall drop in unemployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released this month show. 

Nevertheless, the pandemic's impact on employment in New York took its toll on union jobs as well: The number of workers represented by a union fell from 1.8 million to 1.7 million between 2019 and 2020. 

And the number of union members in New York last year was at its lowest in a decade at 1.6 million people. An overall drop in employment led to a higher percentage of unionized workers left in the workforce.

"The disproportionately large decline in total wage and salary employment compared with the decline in the number of union members led to an increase in the union membership rate," the U.S. Department of Labor found. 

The pandemic in the spring led to a sharp rise in unemployment across the country and in New York, with joblessness rising to one in five workers in parts of the state. 

A drop in cases and pandemic mitigation efforts in workplaces has led to only a partial recovery of those jobs from last year. 

New York has the second-highest union membership rate in the country at 22% of its workforce, second only to Hawaii. But that overall percentage has been largely flat since 2010, when 24.2% of people were union members in New York, according to labor statistics numbers.

New York's membership is more than double the national rate of 10.8% of the country's workforce, as membership has been largely flat over the last decade. Of those workers, 7.2 million are public-sector workers and 7.1 million work in the private sector. 

New York has among the most politically active unions in the country, both in the private and public sector.