Happy Labor Day – 18 Numbers That Show Why Americans Need a Break

It’s Labor Day and I hope it’s as bright and sunny where you are as it is here in Central Ohio.

So here I am laboring by assessing student papers today.  Teachers know that a three day weekend means that we either do school work on Sunday (as usual) and enjoy Monday or else enjoy a recreational Sunday afternoon/evening and then use Monday for school work.

Regardless, it’s a day to reflect on work and its meaning and value.  Thanks to the USCCB for the graphic above as well as for distributing this annual statement regarding labor.

Time Magazine (via Money magazine) offers 18 numbers which offer some perspective on where American workers are on this 2015 Labor Day:


15% vs. 138% Average pay increase in real wages since 1979 for the bottom 90% vs. top 1% of earners in America, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

11% vs. 20%+ Percentage of American workers in unions in 2014 vs. the 1970s/early 1980s, respectiv

1 Number of countries in the world with an advanced economy that does not require paid vacation for workers. Four weeks vacation is the minimum in many European countries. And the lone country without any federal mandatory paid vacation is the United States of America.

47 Number of hours the average employee in the U.S. works each week; nearly 40% of employees report working 50 or more hours per week.

33% Percentage increase risk of stroke among employees who work 55 or more hours per week, compared to those with a 35- to 40-hour week.

15 Number of minutes some Amazon employees were given within which to respond to a pager message—even on weekends or during vacations—or risk getting in trouble with the manager.


12% Rise in the number of employees since 2007 who voluntarily choose part-time work and a limited, more flexible work schedule rather than traditional full-time employment.

8% Percentage of workers who say they get extra time off during the summer, in the form of “summer Fridays” or other extended vacation opportunities.

5.6% The official unemployment rate in July, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

42% The “real” unemployment rate according to Donald Trump, who has pointed out that 93 million Americans, or 42% of the working-age population, don’t have jobs. Trump’s numbers include many groups who simply aren’t in the market for a job, including teenagers, stay-at-home parents, and retired senior citizens.

62, 64 Average retirement age for American women and men, respectively, as of 2013. Over the past five decades, the average age of retirement has remained mostly flat for men but has been rising for women, from 55 in the mid-1960s. At least part of the increase can be attributed to the fact that women are more likely to have better career options and more invested in their work lives in modern times.

25% Percentage of Americans age 65 and over who were in the workforce as of 2013, a 3% increase compared to 2010. During this same time frame, there was a 2% drop in the Americans ages 18 to 29 in the workforce.

59% Percentage of American workers who say they are “somewhat” or “very” confident they will enjoy a comfortable retirement.

$63,000, $1 Million The value of the typical American’s retirement savings account, versus the amount that the typical worker believes he or she will need for retirement, respectively.


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