Portlanders generally understand the basic concept of Labor Day – it’s a public holiday celebrating those of us who have to work or labor throughout the year. However, if that’s the case, why do so many retail stores hold sales requiring minimum-wage workers to work the holiday?

Labor Day’s roots start in the late 1800s when unions suggested that the United States government set aside a holiday to celebrate the contributions made by workers in the U.S. to the strength and prosperity of the country. Appropriately enough, Oregon was the first state to make it an official holiday in 1887. In 1894, 30 states officially celebrated the day.

Over the decades since Labor Day worked its way into existence, the holiday became known as the End of Summer, likely due to many U.S. school districts resuming classes around the holiday, either making it the first three-day weekend of the school year or making it the last holiday before the school year starts up.

The explanation of the irony of Labor Day retail sales is actually simpler than we expected – since Labor Day is the last three-day weekend of summer and school starts right around it, retail outlets throughout the U.S. take advantage of the potential customers with that tasty three-day weekend by holding Back-to-School or Labor Day sales. According to Wikipedia, some retailers claim Labor Day is their second-largest sale date of the year, second only to Black Friday right before Christmas.

So, whatever you choose to do on Labor Day, take a moment to remember all the hard work that goes into making Portland, Oregon and the United States as great as they are, and while we’re all out there taking advantage of the great bargains, thank one of the retail employees helping us because it’s not easy to work a busy holiday that everyone else has off.

What do you usually do to celebrate Labor Day? Leave your hard-working plans in the comments!


Source: Wikipedia – Labor Day entry