The New Spirit of Labor Day

On Monday, workplaces around the nation closed to celebrate Labor Day in its 127th year as a federal holiday. Established in June of 1894 by the 53rd Congress, the first Monday of September became the day to celebrate the achievements of American workers and the creation of the national labor movement. The Act predated nearly a century of progressive labor legislation, including the establishment of the U.S. Department of Labor in 1913. But in recent decades, the U.S. workforce has shifted, leading to a new spirit of Labor Day.

When a national Labor Day was first instituted, the U.S. economy was mainly a manufacturing and industrial economy. In 1910, manufacturing made up over 30 percent of the workforce outside of agriculture. During the holiday, cities held parades to exhibit “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” mostly comprised of industry workers, while the preceding Sunday was dedicated to “the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.”

Since the 1950s, however, the U.S. has experienced a paradigm shift from industry to a service economy. Now, with the Digital Revolution, that shift has accelerated—with services accounting for 77 percent of the U.S. GDP in 2017. Other factors, like population growth in city centers, have reduced the popularity and viability of parades. And now, with circumstances created by COVID-19, the way we celebrate Labor Day has inherently changed.

Rather than hold parades, for instance, leadership in the workforce are given “wider coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.” Meanwhile, individual workers take the day to spend time with family, go on holiday, or take part in Labor Day sales. With the pandemic, we have also seen a rise in telework—especially among the technology services sector. At AINS, many of us are still working remotely according to CDC and local guidelines. Unable to mingle with coworkers in the office, or commemorate in parades or celebrations, we must reflect quietly on the efforts of the laborers and leaders who have brought equal opportunity, fair practices, and standardized regulations to the forefront of the American workplace.

That spirit of strength and pride in American workers still remains. Now, especially, we look to the heroes of the COVID pandemic—essential workers in healthcare, governance, retail, education, and more—to remind us of that pride. We are thankful to those who put their lives on the line so that American labor can continue to flourish—so that Labor Day can continue to have meaning to so many.

At AINS, we are proud of the continued hard work and dedication of our employees through the pandemic. Thank you, also, to our customers for supporting our business.