OUR OPINION: American workers have earned their day off
Commercialism taints some holidays and holiday seasons, especially Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Year after year, when these holidays roll around, critics scold Americans for forgetting the day's original purpose and spending their fr...
Commercialism taints some holidays and holiday seasons, especially Memorial Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Year after year, when these holidays roll around, critics scold Americans for forgetting the day's original purpose and spending their free time in the mall.
Not Labor Day. A day set aside to honor American labor and the labor movement, Labor Day serves those purposes today as well as a few others. It's the start of the school year, the unofficial "end of summer" and a much-needed national day off. With the emphasis on the "much-needed" because the truth about American labor is this: U.S. workers deserve their holiday.
"Even after this economic crisis, our markets remain the most dynamic in the world," President Barack Obama said Saturday. "Our workers are still the most productive. We remain the global leader in innovation, in discovery, in entrepreneurship."
Here's a 2007 report that documents the same claim: "American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year," The Associated Press reported in September of that year.
The AP was presenting the findings of a U.N. report, which said the U.S. "leads the world in labor productivity."
Here's the lead to a 2001 CNN story: "Workers in the U.S. are putting in more hours than anyone else in the industrialized world."
Then, there's this, from the New York Times in 1992: "In 1990, a full-time American worker produced $49,600 of goods and services a year. In dollars of equivalent purchasing power, a German worker produced $44,200, a Japanese worker $38,200 and a British worker only $37,100, according to the study."
And if you look up Wikipedia's entry on "List of countries by gross domestic product per hour worked," you'll see that even in 1950, the U.S. sat at No. 1 with Venezuela, Canada and Australia as Nos. 2, 3 and 4.
Any Labor Day news is tempered by America's high unemployment in 2010. But even that figure tends to be lower than in other countries, partly because the American labor market sacrifices job security in favor of dynamism and flexibility.
To sum up: Take a break, American workers. Enjoy a day with family and friends. Recharge your batteries, enjoy the great outdoors, rest up for the weeks and months ahead.
You've earned it.