Hail the essential American worker
The U.S. Department of Labor sums up the observance of Labor Day succinctly.
Celebrated the first Monday of September, the holiday Congress made official in 1894 is “dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”
While we do not subscribe to the tenet that no man achieves anything on his own — individual accomplishment and achievement are absolutely real and to be commended — the efforts of the working man and woman are, well, as American as the apple pie they bake, the Chevy they build, and the flag they sew.
This year has been tough for workers, including those who own and operate small businesses.
Here in Lee County unemployment numbers have exceeded even the peak of the Great Recession, which saw rates of 13.1 percent in both September of 2009 and January of 2010 when the Cape was at the epicenter of the housing implosion.
Now, pandemic-driven mandatory closures of “non-essential businesses” pushed unemployment to 14.6 percent this April with that rate still listed at 10.7 percent for both June and July as state mandates allowed most of those “non-essential” businesses to reopen, albeit at much-reduced capacity due to COVID-19.
There is some positive news, though, for those of us who have to earn a living — and everyone else as well.
While case, hospitalization and death numbers remain a cause for concern, things currently seem to be stabilizing on the health front.
A reprieve, even if it ultimately proves to be a short-term dip, is most certainly welcome.
As are the numbers on the economic side which show that Lee Countians are slowly returning to work.
To labor, especially this year’s pandemic heroes:
— The “essential workers” who reported to retail, services, professional and trades jobs in the face of the unknown;
— The health care and public safety workers who reported in the face of great risk;
— The small business owner-operators who regrouped, revamped and survived, keeping as many employees on board as they could in the face of uncertainty;
— And the teachers and educators now on the front line.
We salute you!
And we thank you because it is the American worker who has made our country great.
And it is we who are the key to our country’s recovery.
Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend.
— Breeze editorial