At 160 million strong, today’s labor force has grown dramatically since the 1800s. Women, in particular, have contributed to the boost: In 1950, they made up just 30% of the workforce, but now women account for nearly half of all American workers. And the impact of small businesses can’t be denied. America’s 28 million small businesses employ 57.9 million workers. Check out our Top 10 Labor Day Facts:

  1. Labor Day in Canada began in 1872 in Toronto but quickly made its way south to the U.S. Originally it began as a significant demonstration demanding rights for workers.
  2. The first U.S. Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. The Labor Day parade of about 10,000 workers took unpaid leave and marched from City Hall past Union Square uptown to 42nd street, and ended in Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue for a concert, speeches, and a picnic.
  3. Oregon was the first state to make Labor Day a holiday in 1887.
  4. On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
  5. What are we celebrating? The contributions and achievements of the 155 million men and women who are in the U.S. workforce.
  6. In the late 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks to eke out a basic living. Children as young as 5-6 years old worked in factories and mines.
  7. The year in which the 8-hour day was firmly established was 1916 with the passage of the Adamson Act. This was the first federal law regulating hours of workers in private companies.
  8. Traditionally people did not wear white or seersucker clothes after Labor Day as it unofficially marked the end of summer.
  9. The football season starts on or around Labor Day and many teams play their first game of the year during Labor Day weekend.
  10. Labor Day is viewed as the unofficial last day of vacation before the start of the new school year (and mourned by students all over). Stated differently, it is the Back-to-School kickoff (cheered by parents all over).