Hard to Believe its Labor Day Already!

August 25, 2010

Monday is Labor Day. Known as the “unofficial” end to the summer, one of the more common phrases that can be heard leading up to the Holiday weekend is something like; “I can’t believe it is Labor Day already.” While there are still two and a half weeks left of the season, with children going back to school and the football season getting ready to kick off, summer – for all intents and purposes – is coming to an end.

Marked by a number of events, such as parades and fairs, Labor Day is a tribute to the American worker that has been celebrated on the first Monday of each September for well over 100 years. According to the United States Department of Labor (DOL), Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”

According The Library of Congress, on September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City to participate in America’s first Labor Day parade. This first Labor Day celebration was organized by representatives of many local unions which comprised the New York Central Union. While it is not clear whose idea it was to create a workers’ holiday, it did originate from organized labor as a way to demonstrate the strength of the labor movement and inspire improvements in working conditions, things that still hold true today.

Connecticut has a strong labor history and was among some of the first states to enact legislation creating a Labor Day Holiday even before Congress officially passed federal legislation making the September date a national holiday in 1894.

With the nation’s economy continuing to struggle, Labor Day has an even greater meaning in that it sheds light on those who are unemployed and struggling to find work. Here in Connecticut, the state’s 8.9% unemployment rate is below the national average. But with the nearly 1 in 10 Americans currently out of a job it is certainly a cause for concern.

Results of an informal survey issued last week by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) suggest that many businesses in the state do not expect to hire new workers for the remainder of the year. Most of these businesses are small businesses that employ less than 50 people. With small businesses making up the backbone to our economy, the prospects for a positive sift in the local job market over the next few months remains less than hopeful.

The good news is that Connecticut continues to be home to some of the most knowledgeable, highly trained and skilled workers in the entire nation. A huge asset in getting our economy turned around. This Monday take a moment to think about all the wonderful structures and equipment our nation’s labor force has created over the years. It is truly amazing.

I think this statement from the DOL puts it best. “The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.” Happy Labor Day!