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Labor Day is not just a holiday for Bob Funk

Every day is Labor Day for me. Having been blessed to be in the staffing industry for the last 50 years I’ve helped put seven million people to work. I’m very serious about jobs and understand that a company is only as good as its employees – no matter the industry.

America’s laborers are best in the world. The idea of a Labor Day holiday began in the 1880’s as a tribute to workers who made America strong and prosperous. First, municipalities created the holiday and then states jumped on board, and in 1884 Congress passed the act making the first Monday in September each year a legal holiday called Labor Day. This holiday thanks the more than 150 million Americans who make up our country’s workforce today. Labor Day is traditionally considered a workingman’s holiday or in today’s vernacular a working person’s holiday. After all, women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce. We celebrate with parades, festivals and speeches but what we are celebrating is the spirit of the American worker.

American workers' hard work and grit has provided this country with one of the highest standards of living on the planet and the highest production levels the world has known. A recent Pew Research survey shows that most Americans work in the service sector – education and healthcare top those industries just ahead of professional, business and retail trades. Nearly 15 million Americans are self-employed.

Of course, we know the working landscape is shifting. The famed Baby Boomers are retiring and millennials, ages 18 to 34, have outpaced Generation X (loosely referring to those born between the 60’s and the 80’s) as the largest generation in the labor force. The wage gap in women’s earnings is closing among the younger generations but is 83 cents on the dollar compared to men overall. Asian men in America earn the most. But white men still earn more than all other racial ethnicities. The college-educated out earn their less-educated counterparts and that gap is widening. More older Americans are working but teenaged employment is declining.

Technology is taking away the boundaries of working. Four million Americans telecommute, workers over the age of 35 are more likely to work long-distance and more than half of our jobs could allow us to work from home.

As I’ve watched millions of people eagerly go to work, I’ve learned that hard work and a positive work ethic equal success in America. We put more hours in our jobs than almost every other nation. We take fewer vacation days than our European counterparts and our productivity is always among the top in the world. I’m proud to help people get a job. There is no smile like the smile on the face of someone who just landed a job. There is no thrill like the thrill of opening that first paycheck. There is no pride like the pride of knowing you are taking financial care of your family, yourself, and your country.

Every day is Labor Day for me, and I’m very grateful for that.

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