Many Americans celebrate Labor Day by getting together for a cookout, taking a final road trip before the kids go back to school, or going to the beach.
While Memorial Day — observed the last Monday in May — marks the unofficial start of summer in the United States, Labor Day — observed the first Monday in September — is often seen as summer’s last hurrah.
What was once known as the “workingmen’s holiday”, was first observed on Sept. 5, 1882. That’s when about 10,000 workers came together in New York City for a parade. By 1894, more than half of the states in the nation were observing the holiday on one day or another.
That same year, on June 29, President Grover Cleveland signed a bill designating the first Monday in September as “Labor Day”, a time to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers.
Today, Labor Day honors the 157 million people aged 16 and over, who make up the nation’s labor force.
According to data from the U.S. Census, more Americans — 4,562,160 — work in retail sales than in any other occupation. Cashiers, food industry workers, office clerks and registered nurses round out the top five.
If you’re a man, you are more likely to earn more money than your female colleagues. In 2013, the real median earning for men was $50,033 while women brought in $39,157. The real median household income is $51,939, down 8 percent from 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job of “psychologist” to be the fastest growing occupation between 2012 and 2022. But the occupation that is expected to add the most positions is that of “personal care aide”.
And while Labor Day was started by unions, these days only about 16.2 million of America’s wage and salary workers are represented by a union. In 1983, 20.1 percent of American workers — 17.7 million people — belonged to a union.