Labor Day. For most of us, this holiday marks the end of summer. It’s a last hurrah, a last chance to have friends over to fire up the barbecue, to go to the beach and just enjoy the care-free attitude that comes with the summer sunshine. Even though fall doesn’t officially start until Sept. 22, once the kids start going back to school and the lifeguard nights at the bars end, it’s just not the same.
Other than serving as the unofficial end of the greatest season of the year, what else do we know about Labor Day? Here are some facts about the holiday’s history and labor in general. Rattle these bad boys off this weekend and you are sure to sound smart at a party—a Labor Day party that is!
• Labor Day is the first Monday in September and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. The Department of Labor calls it a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
• The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City.
• The day of the holiday was changed to the first Monday in September in 1884. Congress passed an act officially making the first Monday in September a legal holiday on June 28, 1894.
• For many decades, Labor Day was seen as a day for workers to voice their complaints and discuss better working conditions and pay.
• In 2009, 155.1 million people were in the nation’s labor force.
• Approximately 7.2 million people identify their occupation as a teacher. Comparatively, 1.7 million are chief executives, 751,000 are farmers and ranchers and 773,000 are hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists.
• There are 15.7 million labor union members in the United States, which is about 12 percent of wage and salary workers. Alaska, Hawaii and New York have some of the highest rates of the states. North Carolina has one of the lowest.
• In New York, the average commute time is 31.5 minutes. Not surprisingly, this is the most time-consuming commute in the nation. The national average is 25.3 minutes.
• About 3.4 million workers have an at least 90-minute commute to work each day.
• The origin of the word labor is from the Anglo-French word labur and the Latin word labor. It was first used in the 14th century.
• Roughly 7.7 million people have two jobs. Of those people, 288,000 work two full-time jobs.
• There are about 5.7 million people who report they work from home.
• About 28 percent of workers 16 or older work more than 40 hours a week. Meanwhile, 8 percent of workers work more than 60 hours a week.
• And in other labor news: For a first-time mom, the average time span for labor is 16 hours. After the first baby, mothers can expect to be in labor for an average of 7 to 8 hours for following pregnancies.
So spend this Labor Day celebrating the holiday the way it was intended to be—sit back, relax and pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you do.