The numbers tell the story: Nearly 200,000 new union members in 2023. Contract victories with double-digit raises for nearly 1 million workers. Soaring support for unions, with favorable feedback from 70% of poll respondents overall and a whopping 88% of young people.

More good numbers from 2023: Data on median earnings show 15.9% higher pay, or $173 more a week, for union versus nonunion workers.

America's unions have more momentum than they've had in decades, spurred by a booming economy; millions of new jobs; and a pro-union, pro-growth White House whose policies are making it all possible.

"In my IBEW career, there has never been so much progress on so many fronts so swiftly," International President Kenneth W. Cooper said.

"The Biden administration's strategies are paying off beyond our wildest dreams — and our dreams were already pretty big," he said. "Infrastructure, technology, manufacturing, growing the economy, creating good union jobs, expanding workers' rights — President Joe Biden is succeeding at all of that and more."

Data released in late January affirm those achievements. The economy grew by 3.1% in 2023, shocking many economists who'd predicted a downturn after 1.9% growth was recorded in 2022.

The chief economist at Moody's Analytics, which advises businesses and investors, had nothing but praise for the 2023 numbers in an interview with The Washington Post.

"It's just a perfect report: strong growth and low inflation," Mark Zandi said. "Everything contributed to growth: consumers, businesses, government, housing, trade, inventories. All of the economic wheels were moving in the same direction."

Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department reported that 191,000 people joined unions in 2023, for a net gain after attrition of 139,000 members. Growth was especially strong among young workers and people of color, with representation for Black workers up 13.1%

Most media coverage, however, struck a negative tone, leaving out vital context and spinning the fresh data to suggest that unionization is on the decline.

"Unions are growing, full stop," Cooper said.

The fallacy involves union density. As a percentage of the total workforce, unionized workers are down by a tiny fraction — a result of the exploding job market, not a sign of decline.

"We're talking about 7.5 million new jobs in the past two years, a pace faster than the labor movement's been able to keep up with," Cooper said, stressing that the IBEW and fellow unions are working as fast as they can to close the gap.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, an IBEW sister out of Portland, Ore., Local 125, echoed that commitment.

"Organizing is happening at a rate not seen in generations, and new federal investments by the Biden administration in emerging sectors of the economy are creating more opportunities for workers to attain good union jobs," Shuler said.

She also applauded the historic 2023 strikes by health care workers, autoworkers, screenwriters and actors, and scores of smaller walkouts that also led to substantial gains. "Some 900,000 union members secured double-digit wage increases in their new contracts," she said. "That's the power of solidarity."

Even without contract battles, unionized workers are pocketing more money than those without representation, as wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed again in 2023. On the union side, wages were 15.9% higher than at nonunion workplaces. That translated to median weekly earnings of $1,263 versus $1,090 for nonunion workers.

Americans are paying attention, with polls showing that 60 million workers would join a union if given the opportunity. Roughly seven out of 10 people polled say they support unions, with approval among young people flirting with 90%.

Positive data and polls aren't the only measurement of labor's new clout. From Day One of the Biden administration, policies, executive orders, legislation and pro-worker appointments to key positions have made a night-and-day difference.

"The administration is consulting us and listening to us — particularly the IBEW, but also labor at large — more than any past White House, even the friendliest ones," said Austin Keyser, assistant to the international president for government affairs.

"In less than two years, we met every original goal we set in our policy playbook when President Biden took office," he said. "It's not just that he pushed through the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and other record funding packages. He and our allies in Congress insisted that unprecedented labor standards were attached to those bills — project labor agreements, prevailing wage, apprentice ratios and other language directly affecting IBEW members' rights, wages and safety."

Whether those victories and the rest survive into 2025 and beyond lies with the 2024 elections, results that Keyser and Cooper said will either accelerate progress for workers or slam on the brakes.

"With our voice and our votes for President Biden and a pro-worker Congress, our gains will multiply and become part of the fabric of America, empowering working people for decades to come," Cooper said. "We can't let this moment slip away. To put it mildly, the alternative is grim."