Picturing America's workforce on Labor Day

FILE - A construction worker. (Pixabay via MGN)

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - It's Labor Day and Americans across the country are celebrating the unofficial end of summer. But the real reason for the national holiday is to honor the labor movement and American workers.

Last month, the U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs - fewer than economists expected but with big gains in manufacturing, 36,000 more positions, according to the Labor Department.

President Donald Trump has promised to create more jobs in manufacturing. But U.S. labor history expert Joe McCartin believes those days are over because of the impact of globalization and technology.

"We can’t be nostalgic about a past that’s not going to be possible for us to recreate," said McCartin, a labor history professor at Georgetown University. "We’re never going to have a coal industry as we once had. We're never going to have a steel industry that employs as many people as that industry once did."

One of the fastest-growing fields in America is health care; about 20,000 more jobs were added to the industry in August.

"One of every eight workers is employed in health care in the United States," said Eileen Appelbaum, senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy & Research.

Some other big changes in the labor force is more contracted work, and part-time work is now more common than full-time work.

Meanwhile, wage growth did slow in August; average hourly wages rose $0.03 last month to $26.39 and up 2.5 percent a year ago.

"They’ve been suffering from years of wage stagnation," McCartin said. "Though the economy has begun to grow at a faster rate recently. A lot of the new jobs that are being created are being created in lower-paying parts of the economy."

Some experts propose reducing the work week - a way that could grow the economy and surely something most Americans would be happy to get on board with.

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