You deserve a break today


This Labor Day is an apt occasion to reflect that Americans may be many things, but lazy isn’t one of them.

More than 151 million of us 16 and older are in the work force, 112 million of us in occupations that provide a service, according to the Census Bureau. Our median household income is $44,389 and the median weekly wage, $568.

Over a fourth of us work more than 40 hours a week, and 8 percent of us more than 60. There are 7.5 million moonlighters, and 249,000 of those hold two full-time jobs.

We are still a mobile work force, one of the strengths of the U.S. economy. The median length of time for a worker with a single employer is four years.

While we are rapidly leaving our rural roots behind, 827,000 of us are ranchers and farmers and, if it helps our rugged self-image, that’s more than the 738,000 who work as hairdressers and cosmetologists.

We are still very much a traditional work force, at least as we understand "traditional." We may think of ourselves as a 24/7 society, but most of us work days; only 8 percent of us work night or overnight shifts. And the great majority of us _ 77 percent _ drive to work alone, taking just over 25 minutes to do so. Believe it or not, the average commute got shorter over the last five years _ but only by 48 seconds.

For all the talk of telecommuting, the share of people working from home has increased only slightly, from 3.3 percent to 3.6 percent, since 2000.

Americans work more hours per year than any other workers in the industrialized world, according to researchers at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and they take off less time. The average American gets 23 days a year in vacation and holidays, half of what an Italian worker takes in time off. Even the legendarily hardworking Japanese get 31.

So take a break this Labor Day. You’ve earned it.

(Contact Dale McFeatters at McFeattersD(at)