In US, a Labor Day Short on Celebration

Posted September 5th, 2011 at 9:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Monday is the Labor Day holiday in the United States, the country’s traditional salute to workers that this year finds the nation struggling with persistent high unemployment and stagnant job growth.

Labor Day has been officially recognized in the U.S. since 1894, and over the years has often been celebrated as the last of the summer holidays with family gatherings and union worker parades before cooler weather returns. In some communities, it is the last day before school year starts for children.

Parades of workers are planned in major U.S. cities Monday, but the organized labor movement in the country is greatly diminished from its high point in the post-World War Two years.

Now, about one of every eight workers is a union member. But unionized local, state and federal government workers now outnumber those working for private companies, a marked shift from the early days of the country’s union movement when unionized factory workers dominated union membership rolls.

President Barack Obama is speaking Monday at a labor union rally in Detroit, Michigan. It is still the center of the country’s auto industry but one that has shrunken significantly in the face of competition from foreign automakers. On Thursday, he is outlining a new jobs plan in a speech to Congress in an effort to promote job growth and boost the country’s sluggish economy.

The country faces daunting labor challenges, and did not add any new jobs in August. About 14 million workers are unemployed, with millions more working part-time even as they attempt to land full-time jobs. The country’s unemployment rate has hovered at an unusually high 9 percent figure for 29 months and shows no sign of diminishing.