Labor Day and the value of work

On Monday, many Americans will have the day off in observance of Labor Day -- a day where we celebrate the American worker.

As we write in this space each year, the first Labor Day celebration was in 1882 in New York City. It was organized by the Central Labor Union. Other cities followed over the years. By 1894, 31 states established the first Monday in September as Labor Day, and Congress established the holiday in the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

Labor Sunday was established in 1909 by AFL to recognize the spiritual and educational components of the labor movement.

This year, Labor Day has a particularly important meaning to millions of individuals whose jobs were affected by the pandemic. In February, unemployment was at a low 3.5% -- basically full employment with a booming economy. But once the virus arrived, the number increased to 4.4% in March and 14.7% in April.

Missouri had its own increase in unemployment due to the virus, but in recent months, as the economy has reopened, the unemployment rate has dropped. After hitting 10.2% unemployment in April, the state's unemployment fell to 6.9% in July.

Even as precautions remain in place for the virus, things are improving for the economy and employment. It's certainly helped to be in a state making great efforts to reopen and get people back to work while taking steps to protect public health.

Work is important. Not only for the practical reason of putting food on the table, but there's inherent value to the individual. Proverbs 14:23 says it this way: "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty."

We wish each person reading this a happy Labor Day and give thanks for the blessing of work.