factory worker

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CNN  — 

Here’s a look at Labor Day, a legal holiday celebrated in the United States and Puerto Rico to honor working people. In 2022, Labor Day is on September 5.


Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

In many other countries, May Day (May 1st) is the day working people are honored. Most of Europe celebrates May Day.

For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer.

As of July 2022, there were roughly 164 million people in the civilian labor force in the United States.


Early 1880s - According to the Department of Labor, the idea for creating a holiday to honor workers is proposed by either Peter McGuire of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners Union or Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists. The Central Labor Union of New York appoints a committee to organize a picnic and parade in honor of working people.

September 5, 1882 - New York City holds the first Labor Day parade. The US Census Bureau estimates that 10,000 workers participate. Not all employers support the idea, but many union workers take the first Monday in September off anyway. Some unions levy fines against workers who do go into work. At the time, workers receive time off for Christmas, the Fourth of July and every other Sunday.

1887 - Oregon becomes the first state to make Labor Day a legal holiday.

1894 - President Grover Cleveland and the US Congress make Labor Day a national holiday.

Labor Unions

US Bureau of Labor Statistics

In 1983, the union membership rate was 20.1% in the US. Membership was 10.3% in 2021.

In 2021, Hawaii and New York had the highest rate of union workers among the states: Hawaii with 22.4% and New York with 22.2%.

South Carolina and North Carolina had the lowest, with 1.7% and 2.6% in 2021.