12 Things You Didn't Know About American Workers
Labor Day

12 Things You Didn't Know About American Workers

iStockphoto/The Fiscal Times

As Labor Day—September 7th—approaches, it is clear that jobs and job creation will be one of the main topics of discussion over the next 15 months.

As we fight to put Americans to work, stimulate the nation’s economy and rebuild our manufacturing base, there is much to be grateful for.

We are a strong country full of people who want to work, who want to invest and who want to do better.

America’s 157 million workers—up 2 million from one year ago—are collectively the most productive in the world.  It is this drive and determination that help make our nation the greatest on Earth.  We should all be proud of that fact and do whatever we can to keep this unmatchable spirit alive.

Everyone knows that companies are being careful in hiring today.  But if every business with revenues over $5 million would bring just one person on board, it would make a great difference in our 5.3% unemployment rate.  And who knows, the right person could create or advance an idea that would really help the employer.

That is the American way, after all...innovation.

  • The first Labor Day was on September 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers marched in New York City.

  • That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another.  In June of that year, President Grover Cleveland signed legislation designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

  • Today, 4,562,160 people work in retail; 3,131,390 are in food services; 2,687,310 are registered nurses, and 2,137,730 are janitors and cleaners.

  • In 1910 more than 11 million people were involved in farming.  That number is much smaller today—fewer than 3 million.

  • More than 16 million of the nation’s 157 million workers are members of a union.  New York has the highest union membership rate (24.6 percent), and North Carolina had the lowest rate (1.9 percent).

  • The 2013 real median earnings for male and female full-time, year-round workers were $50,033 and $39,157 respectively, up $2,060 from two years earlier.

  •  One of the fastest-growing job categories is personal care aides—there are about 580,800.

  • 86.1 percent of full-time workers are covered by health insurance.

  •  Just over 4% of us work from home. 

  • About 6 million of us leave for work between midnight and 4:59 am, and the average commute from home for a U.S. worker is 25.8 minutes. 

  • 76.4 percent of those who drove to work did so alone.
  • 9.4 percent carpool and 0.6 percent bike to work.