8 Facts about America's Work Force

Construction Workers
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If you think Labor Day is just an excuse to have a barbecue and celebrate the unofficial end of summer, you are mistaken. The holiday's true roots are in honoring the contributions of workers. As Labor Day approaches, BusinessNewsDaily has compiled a list of facts about the holiday, workers and just what everyone celebrates on the first Monday of September.

It was originally a protest

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The origins of the holiday were anything but celebratory. In fact, the first Labor Day "celebration" was actually a protest in which 10,000 workers marched to Union Square Park in New York City to support the idea of a holiday for workers. It was not until 1894, 12 years after that protest, that President Grover Cleveland signed into law a bill designating the first Monday in September, Labor Day . Several states had already passed legislation by that time recognizing the holiday.

More people are ditching the office

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The number of employees working from home has increased recently thanks in large part to advancements in technology that simplify working remotely. The 2010 United States Census estimated that 5.9 million people worked from home in 2010. Although that number represents a small percentage of workers overall, it is expected to grow significantly in coming years. Workers are so eager to work from home that they are willing to make serious sacrifices. In a recent survey, 12 percent of workers said they would give up showers and 5 percent of workers said they would divorce their spouse in order to work from home.

It is a celebration of more than 155 million people

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Workers enjoying their time off this Labor Day are a part of the 155.2 million people that make up the U.S. work force. Those 155.2 million workers include all workers above age 16, according to June 2012 estimates from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some of the most popular professions most popular professions among workers, according to the 2010 United States Census, included teachers (3,073,673), janitors (1,445,991) and cooks (1,051,471).

No one knows who started the holiday

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While no one is exactly sure of who started the holiday officially, two men are at the center of this debate. The United States Department of Labor credits both Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, and Matthew Maguire, a machinist and later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., for proposing the idea of a holiday for workers.

Salary differences remain

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Despite the best efforts for pay equality among men and women, differences in pay remain. The 2010 census found that men earned a yearly median salary of $47,715 while women earned $36,931.

Early birds get the worm

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Workers make a lot of sacrifices for work, but one of the biggest may be to their sleeping patterns. It was estimated by the 2010 census that 16.3 million workers left for work between midnight and 5:59 a.m. Those early birds represented 12.5 percent of all commuters. A majority of other commuters don't seem to be worried about carpooling and leaving early for work. The census said that 76.6 percent of workers indicated they drove alone to work while just fewer than 10 percent of workers said they carpooled to work. Even fewer workers (4.9 percent) said they took public transportation to work, the Census said.

Commute time varies greatly

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Although the commute for every worker is different, workers should expect to spend about a half hour getting to work. That’s according to the 2010 census, which said that the average commute time for workers was 25 minutes. Workers in Maryland and New York faced the longest commutes, coming in at just more than 31 minutes. While most workers get to work in around a half hour, 3.2 million workers will also spend 90 or more minutes commuting each day.

More than the end of summer

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Labor Day may have started as a way to recognize workers, but it has turned into an unofficial celebration of the end of summer as well. The holiday not only signals the start of the transition to fall, but it also often coincides with the start of the school year in many areas as well. Additionally, Labor Day has developed some significance in the fashion world, as it has long been said that people should not wear white after the September holiday. Lastly, the holiday also marks the start of football, with the National Football League kicking off its season the Thursday after Labor Day.

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