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Answer Sheet
Posted at 10:32 PM ET, 09/02/2012

Labor Day facts

For well over a century Americans have been celebrating Labor Day on the first Monday in September, yet it may be the federal holiday about which kids — and plenty of adults — know the least.


A protest in 2011 in Ohio against a Republican effort to cut public workers’ union bargaining rights. (Melina Mara/THE WASHINGTON POST)
Too many don’t know that it was labor activists who forced employers to stop sending kids into mines, textiles, glass factories, canneries and other places to work back-breaking jobs day and night. Because of the labor movement, child labor ended, and adult workers won better conditions, including the eight-hour work day.

The first Labor Day celebration is believed to have been first observed on Sept. 5, 1882, when Peter J. McGuire, a Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary, organized 10,000 workers to march in New York City, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Within a decade, more than half the states were observing a “labor” holiday. In 1894, Congress formally established a federal labor holiday to be celebrated on the first Monday in September.

Here are some facts and figures about the work force kindly assembled by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies.

Who Are We Celebrating?

155.2 million

Number of people 16 and older in the nation’s labor force in June 2012.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employee Benefits

85.0%

Percentage of full-time workers 18 to 64 covered by health insurance during all or part of 2010.

Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, derived from Table 8

Our Jobs

Americans worked in a variety of occupations in 2010. Here is a sampling:

Occupation Number of employees:

Actors 7,835

Computer programmers 389,471

Cooks 1,051,896

Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists 395,311

Janitors and building cleaners 1,445,991

Teachers (preschool - grade 12) 3,073,673

Telemarketers 48,455

Telephone Operators 33,057

Web developers 115,561

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table B24124

26.3 million

Number of female workers 16 and older in management, business, science, and arts occupations in 2010. Among male workers, 16 and older, 23.7 million were employed in management, professional and related occupations.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table C24010

1.4%

Percentage increase in employment in the United States between December 2010 and December 2011. Employment increased in 266 of the 322 largest counties (large counties are defined as having employment levels of 75,000 or more).

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5.3%

Percentage increase in Kern County, Calif., between December 2010 and December 2011, the largest increase in employment among the 322 largest counties. Harris County, Texas, had the highest level increase of 62,700 jobs.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

3.4%

Percentage decline in employment in Benton County, Wash., between December 2010 and December 2011, the largest percentage decrease among the nation’s 322 largest counties.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

5.9 million

The number of people who worked from home in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table B08128

Another Day, Another Dollar

$47,715 and $36,931

The 2010 real median earnings for male and female full-time, year-round workers, respectively.

Source: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010

Early, Lonely and Long — the Commute to Work

16.3 million

Number of commuters who left for work between midnight and 5:59 a.m. in 2010. They represent 12.5 percent of all commuters.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table B0813

76.6%

Percentage of workers who drove alone to work in 2010. Another 9.7 percent carpooled and 4.9 percent took public transportation (excluding taxicabs).

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table DP03

25.3 minutes

The average time it took people in the nation to commute to work in 2010. Maryland and New York had the most time-consuming commutes, averaging 31.8 and 31.3 minutes, respectively.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table R0801

3.2 million

Number of workers who faced extreme commutes to work of 90 or more minutes each day in 2010.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 American Community Survey, Table B08012

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By  |  10:32 PM ET, 09/02/2012

 
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