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Facts for Features: Labor Day 2015: Sept. 7

Press Release Number CB15-FF.14

JULY 23, 2015 — The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “workingmen’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century — and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. 

Who Are We Celebrating?

157 million

Number of people 16 and over in the nation’s labor force in June 2015.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1

Our Jobs

Largest Occupations May 2014 Number of employees
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupations with the Highest Employment, May 2014,
Retail salespeople 4,562,160
Cashiers 3,398,330
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food 3,131,390
Office clerks, general 2,889,970
Registered nurses 2,687,310
Customer service representatives 2,511,130
Waiters and waitresses 2,445,230
Laborers and freight, stock and material movers, hand employment 2,400,490
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal, medical and executive 2,207,220
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 2,137,730

16.2 million

The number of wage and salary workers age 16 and over represented by a union in 2014. This group includes both union members (14.6 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million). Among states, New York continued to have the highest union membership rate (24.6 percent), and North Carolina again had the lowest rate (1.9 percent).
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table 1 and Table 5 <www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf>

15 million

Number of employed female workers 16 and over in service occupations in 2013. Among male workers 16 and over, 11.6 million were employed in service-related occupations.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table C24010


Percentage increase in employment (or 2.7 million) in the U.S. between September 2013 and September 2014. Employment increased in 306 of the 339 largest U.S. counties (large counties are defined as having employment levels of 75,000 or more).
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Another Day, Another Dollar

$50,033 and $39,157

The 2013 real median earnings for male and female full-time, year-round workers, respectively. The real median household income $51,939, about 8.0 percent lower than in 2007.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013, Table A-4 and A-1

Fastest Growing Jobs


Projected percentage growth from 2012 to 2022 in the number of industrial-organizational psychologists (1,600 jobs in 2012), the projected fastest-growing occupation. Meanwhile, the occupation expected to add the greatest number of positions over this period is personal care aides (580,800).
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employee Benefits


Percentage of full-time, year-round workers age 18 to 64 covered by health insurance during all or part of 2013.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2013, derived from Table 3 <www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p60-250.pdf>

Say Goodbye to Summer

Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.


The number of shoe stores for back-to-school shopping in 2013. Other choices of retail establishments abound: there were 27,340 family clothing stores, 7,047 children and infants’ clothing stores, 6,998 office supplies and stationery stores, 7,064 book stores and 8,102 department stores.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 County Business Patterns


The number of sporting goods stores nationwide in 2013. In U.S. sports, college football teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing its first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 County Business Patterns, NAICS 451110


The number of travel agents employed full time, year-round in the U.S. in 2013. In addition, there were 15,628 tour and travel guides employed full time, year-round nationwide. On a weekend intended to give U.S. workers a day of rest, many people climb into their drivers’ seats or board an airplane for a quick end of the summer getaway.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table B24124


The number of paid employees (for the pay period including March 12) who worked for a gasoline station in the U.S. 2013. Oregon (9,901 paid gasoline station employees) and New Jersey (17,278 paid gasoline station employees) are the only states without self-service gasoline stations. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in February 1887.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 County Business Patterns, NAICS 447

The Commute to Work

6 million

Number of commuters who left for work between midnight and 4:59 a.m. in 2013. They represented 4.4 percent of all commuters. The most common time was between 7 and 7:29 a.m. – with 20 million commuters.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table B08132


Percentage of workers 16 and over who worked from home in 2013.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table B08128


Percentage of workers 16 and over who drove alone to work in 2013. Another 9.4 percent carpooled and 0.6 percent biked to work.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table S0801

25.8 minutes

The average time it took workers in the U.S. to commute to work in 2013. Maryland (32.5 minutes) and New York (32.1 minutes) had the most time-consuming commutes.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2013 American Community Survey, Table R0801

The following is a list of observances typically covered by the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features series:

Black (African American) History Month (February)
Super Bowl
Valentine's Day (Feb. 14)
Women's History Month (March)
Irish-American Heritage Month (March)/
      St. Patrick's Day (March 17)
Earth Day (April 22)
Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month (May)
Older Americans Month (May)
Mother's Day
Hurricane Season Begins (June 1)
Father's Day
The Fourth of July (July 4)
Anniversary of Americans With Disabilities Act (July 26)
Back to School (August)
Labor Day
Grandparents Day
Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15)
Unmarried and Single Americans Week
Halloween (Oct. 31)
American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month (November)
Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
Thanksgiving Day
The Holiday Season (December)

Editor’s note: The preceding data were collected from a variety of sources and may be subject to sampling variability and other sources of error. Facts for Features are customarily released about two months before an observance in order to accommodate magazine production timelines. Questions or comments should be directed to the Census Bureau’s Public Information Office: telephone: 301-763-3030; or e-mail: pio@census.gov.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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