The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

September 2, 2013

Labor Day ... by the numbers

PHILADELPHIA — Labor Day is a national holiday that pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It was created from the labor movement in the late 19th century.

The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country with Oregon becoming the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in February 1887.

By 1894, more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.”


155.7 million

That’s the number of people 16 and older in the nation’s labor force in May.



May 2012/ Number of employees

• Retail salespeople: 4.3 million

• Cashiers: 3.3 million

• Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food: 2.9 million

• Office clerks: 2.8 million

• Registered nurses: 2.6 million

• Waiters and waitresses: 2.3 million

• Customer service representatives: 2.3 million

• Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers: 2.1 million

• Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping: 2 million

• Secretaries and administrative assistants: 2 million

1910 / Number of employees

• Farmers (owners and tenants): 6.1 million

• Farm laborers, wage workers: 2.8 million

• Farm laborers, unpaid family workers: 2.5 million

• Operatives and kindred workers, manufacturing: 2.3 million

• Laborers, non-manufacturing industries: 2.2 million

• Laborers, manufacturing: 1.5 million

• Salesmen and sales clerks, retail trade: 1.5 million

• Housekeepers, private household: 1.4 million

• Managers, officials, and proprietors, retail trade: 1.1 million

• Mine operatives and laborers, crude petroleum and natural gas extraction: 907,000



The number of paid employees (for pay period including March 12, 2011) who worked for a gasoline station in the U.S. Oregon and New Jersey are the only states without self-service gasoline stations. Oregon has 9,634 paid gasoline station employees and New Jersey has 15,734.

15.9 million

The number of wage and salary workers age 16 and over represented by a union in 2012. This group includes both union members (14.4 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million).

1.9 percent

Percentage increase in employment in the U.S. between December 2011 and December 2012. Employment increased in 287 of the 328 largest counties (large counties are defined as having employment levels of 75,000 or more).

$48,202 and $37,118

The 2011 real median earnings for male and female full-time, year-round workers, respectively.

70 percent

Projected percentage growth from 2010 to 2020 in the number of personal care aides (607,000), which is the fastest-growing job market. Analysts expect this occupation to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Meanwhile, the occupation expected to add more positions over this period than any other is registered nurses (711,900).

84.7 percent

Percentage of full-time workers 18 to 64 covered by health insurance during all or part of 2011.


The number of travel agents employed full time, year-round in 2011. In addition, there were 15,067 tour and travel guides employed full time, year-round nationwide.


• The commute to work: 5.7 million commuters left for work between midnight and 4:59 a.m. in 2011. They represented 4.3 percent of all commuters.

• 4.3 percent of workers 16 and older who worked from home in 2011.

• 76.4 percent of workers 16 and older who drove alone to work in 2011. Another 9.7 percent carpooled and 2.8 percent walked from home.

• 25.5 minutes is the average time it took workers in the U.S. to commute to work in 2011. Maryland and New York had the most time-consuming commutes, averaging 32.2 and 31.5 minutes, respectively.


Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season. It’s also the end of the “back to school” shopping season for retailers.

• 25,448: The number of shoe stores for back-to-school shopping in 2011.

• 28,128 family clothing stores

• 7,093 children and infants clothing stores.

• 8,144 office supply and stationery stores

• 8,407 bookstores

• 8,625 department stores.

• 21,227 sporting goods stores nationwide.

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Statistical Abstract, Bicentennial Edition: Historical Statistics of the United States; American Community Survey.

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