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Monday, September 4, 2023

Labor Day 2023

Labor Day is so much more than a Monday off and the unofficial end to summer; here are some fascinating statistics about the holiday’s history, past and present.

Labor Day, which is celebrated on the first Monday of September, falls on September 5 this year. While many people know it simply as the reason for a three-day weekend or the unofficial end to summer, the holiday is actually meant to symbolize and pay tribute to American workers, giving many a much-needed day off.

The holiday was created by the labor movement, which fought to regulate American work schedules and other worker rights, in the late 19th century during the Industrial Revolution in the U.S.

The national holiday has quite the decorated history from its origins to now, when millions use it as an opportunity to travel, party, and shop for holiday deals. Here are some fascinating statistics and fun facts about the holiday’s past and present.

1. The 40-hour workweek didn’t become law until 1940

Today, we know the 40-hour workweek and 8-hour workday as standard, though people in some professions do report working much more than this. However, that standard didn’t come to fruition until 1940, despite the fact that labor unions asked Congress to pass laws limiting workday hours nearly a century earlier.

In 1938, as pressure was mounting on Washington, Congress passed a Fair Labor Standards Act that limited the workweek to 44 hours, or 8.8 hours per day. That was later amended to 40 hours in 1940. However, this move was first requested all the way back in 1866, when the National Labor Union asked Congress to make the 8-hour workday law.

(Source: CNBC)

2. In the 1800s, many Americans worked 12-hour days

In the 19th century, the workers of America had good reason to protest. Many were working six, or even seven, days per week and they’d often be working 12-hour days. Some reports say these employees worked up to 14 hours per day.

Before federal laws were put into place, children as young as five and six could also be found working in mills, factories, and mines across the country. Just to make ends meet, these employees — who were often very poor and had recently immigrated to the U.S. — faced incredibly unsafe working conditions that didn’t provide access to clean air or breaks throughout the day.

(Source: History.com, Chicago History Museum)

3. Oregon was the first state to recognize Labor Day in 1887

New York was the first state to introduce a bill recognizing Labor Day, however, Oregon was the first to officially pass a law creating the holiday in the state in February 1887. Later in 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York all passed laws to make it a holiday as well.


By the end of the 1880s, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had also passed laws to make Labor Day a holiday. Twenty-three other states followed suit before Congress made it a federal holiday in 1894.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

4. Other parts of the world celebrate on May 1

Other countries celebrate International Workers’ Day or Labor Day on May 1. May 1 was chosen because it was the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair in Chicago, which was a violent confrontation between labor protestors and the police.

(Source: Britannica)

5. 53% of Americans planned to travel for Labor Day in 2022

As Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer, many try to get one more trip in over the long weekend. This year is no exception.

This year’s survey by The Vacationer found that 53% of Americans plan to travel at some point over Labor Day Weekend. Among those traveling, most (36%) said they would be traveling by car. About 14% of respondents said they would travel by plane, and 3% planned to use public transportation.

About half of the survey respondents said that high gas prices would not affect their Labor Day travel plans.

(Source: The Vacationer)

6. Nearly 55% of people said they’d be attending a BBQ or cookout

In The Vacationer’s 2021 Labor Day survey, 54.6% of respondents said they’d be attending a barbecue or cookout for the holiday — the most popular response by a longshot.

Some other popular responses were going to the beach (26% of respondents) or going to see fireworks (23.3%). Some of the less popular activities on the list were attending a sporting event (6.65% of respondents), going to the movies (10.33%), and attending some sort of parade (12.43%).

7. The average American full-time employee works 8.5 hours a day

According to estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American full-time employee works about 8.53 hours per day. The numbers vary a bit depending on how much education a person has and if they work more than one job.

Those with just one job work about 8.07 hours per day on average and those who work multiple jobs work about 8.40 hours, according to the bureau. By contrast, those who are employed in a part-time capacity work about 5.62 hours per day.

(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

8. 57% of Americans left vacation days unused in 2020

According to a survey from WalletHub, more than half of Americans (57%) left vacation days unused in 2020. While it’s entirely possible that some of that unused time off was due to the pandemic and the fact that the travel industry came to a screeching halt in March 2020, Americans left plenty of paid time off on the table in 2021 as well when COVID-19 vaccines were widely available and travel restrictions were loosening up.

On average, Americans left about 4.6 days of paid time off unused in 2021. Those numbers will, hopefully, drop a bit this year, as the U.S. Travel Association predicted that Americans will spend 3.5% more on travel in 2022.

(Sources: WalletHub, Fortune)

9. In 2021, 57% of Americans had also gone more than a year without a vacation

At the time of WalletHub’s 2021 survey, 57% of Americans had also said that it had been more than a year since their last vacation of any sort — and not all time off is being used for relaxing or leisurely activities.

This comes despite the fact that research has found that the large majority (79%) of full-time employees in the country believe that taking time off is important for job satisfaction and overall health and well-being.

(Source: WalletHub, Fortune)

10. 818 hot dogs are eaten per second between Memorial Day and Labor Day

To conclude our Labor Day stats on a tasty note, WalletHub’s 2021 survey found that about 818 hot dogs were consumed per second in the unofficial summer season — between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s a whole lot of summer BBQing.

Americans reportedly spent a whopping $7.5 billion on hot dogs and sausages in supermarkets during 2021.

And if you’re wondering which U.S. city consumes the most hot dogs, Los Angeles takes the number 1 spot, beating out other major contenders like New York and Chicago. LA residents consume about 30 million pounds of hot dogs per year.

(Source: WalletHub, National Hot Dog and Sausage Council)

So, whatever your plans are this Labor Day weekend — whether you’re planning a big end-of-the-season beach getaway, attending a parade and fireworks show, or simply planning to spend a quiet day off at home, make sure you say thank you to those who do have to go into work. It’s one small way to keep the original spirit of the working American’s holiday alive.

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