Hawaii Six O - Gary Wagner
The 2020 Labor Day holiday has a new and profound meaning
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According to Wikipedia, “Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. Canada’s Labor Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September.”
With Labor Day weekend beginning for both the United States and Canada at the conclusion of work today, this year’s celebration has a completely different tone and implication. With the global pandemic causing over 30 million Americans initially losing their employment, and the unemployment rate doubling to nearly 14% in Canada (between February and April). The meaning of this holiday has shifted from celebration to either thankfulness to be gainfully employed, and empathy for those that have themselves or know loved ones that have lost their jobs.
Not since the Great Depression have North Americans faced such a dramatic economic crisis. The unemployment rate in the United States has averaged at approximately 5.76% from 1948 until 2020, until it reached an all-time high of 14.70% in April. The lowest rate during this time was at 2.5% in May 1953.
Today the U.S. Labor Department released its jobs report which indicated that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.4% in August. This marks the fourth consecutive month of declines, but the employment expansion is slowing. Last month the United States added 1.4 million jobs which was 300,000 less than the previous month. However, even with the recent improvement there is a large caveat and warning issued by economists.
According to Politico, “Economists warn the labor market may well have grown weaker since the report was conducted, however. Many expect further layoffs through the fall especially if Congress fails to pass further stimulus relief, as an expected drop in consumer spending, the expiration of a small business relief program and other factors could spur a wave of business closures across the country.”
There is also another side effect to the global pandemic, for some it equates to permanent loss of jobs. Given that nearly 30 million Americans have lost their occupation during this l pandemic, for some their fate is even more dire. Their jobs are going away forever. It is estimated that 2.9 million jobs initially earmarked for temporary layoffs have become permanent cuts.
Betsey Stevenson, a former chief economist at the Labor Department and a member of the Council of economic advisers during the Obama administration said, “This recession has been really confused, because what we had was really a suppression where we told everybody to stay home — and that wasn’t really job loss. The real question is, when you end the suppression, how many jobs are left? And boy, it sure looks like we lost a whole lot of jobs.”
The net result of the global pandemic has changed the meaning of the Labor Day holiday. For those fortunate enough to still be gainfully employed any celebration must contain an enormous amount of empathy and sympathy for those individuals less fortunate. Because this holiday weekend will most certainly have a sobering and somber aspect for those individuals who are still unable to find employment.
One suggestion might be that those of us who are fortunate enough to still be gainfully employed perform one act of random kindness to those less fortunate than us.
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Wishing you as always good trading and good health,