Although many people think of Labor Day as a fashion marker – the last day to wear white – the holiday should mark far more.
During the 1880s, the first Monday in September was set aside to celebrate America’s working class and give those workers a day of rest. At that time, the American work week was 60 hours long: 10 hours a day, six days a week. In those days, employers provided few perks. Lunch hours, vacation days, sick leave, minimum wage, insurance coverage, retirement plans, stock options, and other benefits that we enjoy – and often take for granted – did not exist.
The rights that we expect in our workplaces today are the fruit of the struggles of the American workers who came before us, including children. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, every member of working class families worked and children earned substantially lower wages than their parents. Experts estimate that one of every six children in the U.S. under the age of 16 was working in 1880. They worked 60 hours a week, just like the adults. Although today’s children might not believe it, during a notable Philadelphia textile mill strike, children held signs that read, “We want to go to school!”
By the 1920s, the work week was shorter: eight hours a day, six days a week. Although Congress attempted to pass a constitutional amendment that would create a national child labor law during the same decade, it was blocked. Children remained an essential part of the American workforce until the Great Depression when jobs were scarce. In the 1940s, the standard forty-hour work week was established, although many Americans continue to work much longer hours.
American workers owe a debt of gratitude to our ancestors—skilled and unskilled, blue and white collar, of all ages and ethnicity—who fought to secure a better world for us. This Labor Day, remember to celebrate the strength and spirit of American workers. And, thank you for entrusting DunlapGill Wealth Management Group with your family finances of which we know you earned from a lot of very hard work.
As we continue to work hard for you and your family, please let us know what we can do to further assist you in meeting your financial goals. We are wishing everyone a safe and happy Labor Day Holiday weekend.