Labor Day was originally established as a federal holiday in 1894 to honor working Americans, especially those in labor unions. But for most Americans, it celebrates the end of summer instead.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 17% of American Adults consider Labor Day one of the nation’s most important holidays, while 20% think it’s one of the least important. Fifty-eight percent (58%) see it as somewhere in between.
Twenty-eight percent say that when they celebrate Labor Day, they are honoring the contribution of workers in society, but that’s down from 35% a year ago. Twice as many (56%) now view the holiday as the unofficial end of summer. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure.
Forty percent (40%) of adults will attend a barbecue with friends and family this Labor Day weekend. Twenty-two percent (22%) will travel away from home.
Fourteen percent (14%) say this has been an excellent summer, while 40% rate it as a good one. Two percent (2%) think it is the best summer ever.
Most Americans regard Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer.
Fifty-two percent (52%) say they or a member of their family has been a member of a labor union.
Forty-eight percent (48%) have at least a somewhat favorable opinion of unions, up slightly from a year ago. Forty-three percent (43%) view unions unfavorably. This includes 16% with a Very Favorable opinion and 19% with a Very Unfavorable one.
Democrats have a much more favorable opinion of labor unions than Republicans or adults not affiliated with either major political party do. They’re also the most likely to say they or someone in their family has belonged to a labor union.
Among Americans with family involvement in a union, 59% view unions favorably, with 25% who have a Very Favorable opinion. But even 51% of these adults view Labor Day more as the unofficial end of summer than as a day to honor working Americans.
Generally speaking, the older the American, the more likely he or she is to view Labor Day as a celebration of workers.
Americans under 40 are more likely than their elders to be attending a barbecue and to be traveling this Labor Day weekend.
Many students around the country are already returning to school, but Americans still prefer waiting until after Labor Day before sending them back.