Remembering Labor Day

labor day

In my last blog post, I said I would next time discuss jobs in Maryland. With Labor Day just passed, I want to share some thoughts and information in a rather broad way in regard to jobs in this post.

Jobs and Labor Day have a direct relationship, after all. Labor Day became a national holiday with legislation passed by Congress in 1894. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that Labor Day is a day set aside for working people. An annual holiday devoted to the recognition of working people’s contribution to society.

I wondered, how is the working person in the US celebrated on Labor Day in the 21st century?

It was first celebrated in NYC in 1882 under the sponsorship of the Knights of Labor, founded in 1866, and the first important labor organization in the US.

Americaslibrary.gov says the day was celebrated with a picnic, a concert and speeches and 10,000 workers marched in a parade from City Hall to Union Square.

labor day paradeA Labor Day parade in Buffalo, New York in 1900
from Americaslibrary.gov

History also says labor unions were created in order to help workers with many work-related difficulties such as low pay, unsafe or unsanitary working conditions and long hours. Unions gave protection to a worker’s right to express political views.

But Lynn Parramore’s recently featured article in Business Insider urges a deeper view of labor history. She says going back 200-400 years you would find that most people did not work long hours. They relaxed during long holidays, took their time eating their meals, and days often included an afternoon nap.

She feels the more accurate perspective is that one of the goals of unions when fighting for the 8-hour day and 40-hour week was to restore what their ancestors enjoyed before industrial capitalists came on the scene. The ideas weren’t new or radical at all.

Although important ground has been gained for the worker, we can see that an antagonism between workers and employers still exist in the 21st century. According to Wikipedia, union density in the American workforce was 20.1% in 1983 and 10.7% in 2016. In the private sector, membership has fallen under 7%. Consider, in contrast, union membership in Germany is 18.1%, it is 27.1% in Canada and Iceland claims an 85.5% union membership.

Sadly, I would also report that the US is the only advanced country with no national vacation policy whatsoever.

vacation policies in the worldprovided by The Atlantic

Data supports, and to me it seems fairly obvious, that even though the New Deal provided a spectrum of support to working people, a changing economy with too much uninspired thinking and policies has resulted in generally downhill trends since the 1980s for the American worker. I have watched economics in the US since the 70s and I have certainly come to hold this view.

But let’s have an authority weigh in. This year on Labor Day The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board shared reporting from The Pew Research Center that indicates the very wealthy, the very poor and the working poor now outnumber the middle class in America and that there is broad agreement among economists that the top 20% of wage earners are steadily pulling away from the bottom 80%. I find this to be a staggering statistic. Imagine for a moment how this is playing out in the marketplace. It is reflected, I believe, in some statistics the US Dept of Labor just reported on.

Their analyses indicate that young people hold an average of 9 jobs by the age of 32 – not exactly a reflection of workforce stability; that from 1969 – 1996, families, on average, experienced a decrease of 22 hours per week of available time to spend with their children; and that American workers get only 7 hours of sleep every night.  That is 365 hours a year less than recommended. And, 1 in 3 adults say their work has been affected by feeling drowsy on the job.

Many would agree we’re living in a world few could have imagined 50 years ago. But even with the dynamic changes that have occurred in this time frame, there are some things that remain important. The US Dept of Labor also reports on what they consider to be the 3 pillars that provide stability in a worker’s life:

Rising economic security over a lifetime – so a worker can have food on the table, a roof over head, health care when needed, and a secure income for retirement.

A work and family balance
– the resources and the time to enjoy family life and meet the needs of children and aging parents.

Workplaces that are safe and fair
– free from health hazards and from discrimination and other unfair employment practices.

If you’re concerned about the downward trends for the American worker like I am, then consider the ideas put forth in the Tribune’s Editorial Board’s article.

education

They propose the reframing of the education process so that it focuses on producing workers with 21st century job skills – and one that helps people throughout their lives, not just when they’re young.

ongoing education

Some of the details include: 1) computer science would become not a high school but a middle school requirement, 2) problem-solving and critical thinking would be emphasized much more and much earlier, and 3) free online, high quality, certificate-granting programs in coding and many other scientific fields could proliferate for adults and children alike. Revisions in America’s education system would give adults a safety net that cushions the blow of losing a job in mid-career and access to retraining.

political parties logos

They sum up by saying there are other solutions touted by politicians from both sides of the aisle – the left says higher minimum wages and free college; the right says tax cuts and regulatory relief  – but none of these, they say, will be the game changer that reorienting the education system would be for the American worker’s revival. I believe, too, that a game changer is, indeed, what is needed.

work in progress
Now, onto jobs in general, and in Maryland, specifically. In 2016, the Baltimore Business Journal  ran an article that featured Daraius Irani, the chief economist at Towson University’s Regional Economics Studies Institute. His data shows the annual average job growth for the next 3 years in Maryland to be 1.18%. Central Maryland will be at 1.09%.

Irani says the fastest growing jobs in Maryland are for carpenters, construction managers, cost estimators, anesthesiologists and registered nurses, in that order. Likewise, the fastest growing industries in Maryland are in construction, educational services, health care and social assistance, administrative and waste management services and accommodation and food services.

According to the US Dept of Labor, some of the fastest growing occupations in the US:

  • computer engineers
  • data processing equipment repairs
  • medical assistants
  • physician assistants
  • securities & financial sales workers
  • computer support specialists
  • dental hygienists
  • paralegals
  • residential counselors
  • database administrators
  • desktop publishing specialists
  • personal care & health aides
  • system analysts

The top 10 occupations with highest earnings:

  • physicians
  • podiatrists
  • dentists
  • lawyers
  • petroleum engineers
  • optometrists
  • aircraft pilots & flight engineers
  • physicists & astronomers
  • aerospace engineers
  • engineering, natural science, computer & information technology

There are factors that will typically influence outcomes and that couldn’t be truer than in a changing domestic economy coupled with the global economy. Consider the following points by US Dept of Labor and see if there may be some opportunities or openings for you in the following ways:

  • Baby boomers make up almost half (47%) of the workforce today. Imagine all the different jobs opening up for you to fill as boomers continue to exit the workforce into retirement.
  • Small businesses employ about half of the nation’s private sector workforce. Do you know who the small businesses are in your community and what they do? Exploring them may open up possibilities for those not interested in long commutes.
  • In 5 years almost half of all workers will be employed in industries that produce or are intensive users of information technology. Information technology AA degrees are reasonably affordable and available at most community colleges. Check into how this 2-year degree could be a launching pad for more advances in employment.

If you’re looking for advancement in your career, good luck and best wishes. I hope some of the info provided here will be useful to you. You may find the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics useful, too.

Comments on this or future articles or topics, please write to let me hear from you!

About MD Real Estate Service

Realtor since 1997 with a priority to best service. Experience spans several MD counties helping buyers and sellers with condos, single family and town homes, new construction, land, sales, rentals and relocation. Get the attention you need, the expertise you expect with an agent who knows how to deliver in a no pressure way.
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