Sep. 3, 2012
By Rick Manning
The faces of Labor Day are different in 2012 than they have been in the past, all 23 million of them.
The traditional end of summer is greeted with cookouts, last splashes in the swimming pool, and final trips to the beach, but it is something much more in this election year.
Labor Day is a reminder of the unemployed, underemployed and those who don't even bother looking for a job anymore because they don't believe any are available.
Labor Day will also be a time when current and former Labor Secretaries come out from wherever they have been hiding, to talk about the nation's employment situation.
This year, they can stay at home. They are not needed.
Everyone knows the state of the nation's labor force — wages are falling, work is hard to find, and prices are rising again at both the gas pumps and in the supermarkets. Retirement plans for many in the labor force are delayed, and parents worry that their children will suffer a failure to launch due to an inability to find a job.
In fact, the unemployment rate over the past three years has only managed to stay slightly below the final three years of the Great Depression when the labor force is counted the same way.