September 1, 2013

Editorial: Salute worker contributions

This weekend, we are celebrating the American worker.

The holiday is not just about holding barbecues, attending parades and getting in a last hurrah before the kids head off to class and summer fun wraps up.

One way we can acknowledge the contributions of employed people is to think, for a bit, about those who aren’t working. Although the economy seems to be moving toward a sustained recovery, jobs have not been available at the rate anyone would like. Many of the positions cut during the recession will not be reinstated.

If you know any recent college graduates, you are probably aware of the struggles many of them face in finding good-paying jobs in their fields. Making a sustainable living these days often requires holding several jobs, not one, as employers have cut back on pay and benefits. Some businesses have found savings in offering part-time positions instead of full time.

The U.S. unemployment rate, which measures the number of people actively looking for a job, decreased to 7.4 percent in July from 7.6 percent in June.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate averaged 5.82 percent from 1948 until 2013, reaching an all-time high of 10.80 percent in December 1982 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May 1953.

In New York state, the jobless rate for July was at 7.5 percent. In our area, the rate for last month was 8.4 in Clinton County, 7.2 in Essex County and 8.3 in Franklin County.

Remember, those are the percentages of the workforce who were looking for, but unsuccessful in finding, jobs. People who are employed — especially those in rewarding jobs with decent pay at companies who care about their welfare — have reason to feel fortunate.

That is what people should reflect on as they enjoy an extra day off.

The holiday we mark on Monday was born of the labor movement. Unions sought recognition for the hard work being done by employees and pushed states to enact legislation.

Text Only | Photo Reprints