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Labor Day is a federal and state holiday in New York.

Closed for Labor Day:

government offices, including Riverhead Town Hall
courts
U.S. post office (no mail delivery)
schools
Riverhead Free Library
banks
N.Y. Stock Exchange
UPS & FedEx (no regular delivery)

There will be no municipal garbage collection today. The rest of the week remains on its regular schedule.

The LIRR is operating on a Sunday/holiday schedule. Trains to Penn Station leave Riverhead at 7:42 a.m. and at 12:42, 7:42 and 9:42 p.m. Ronkonkoma timetable.

The Suffolk County Transit S92 (Orient to East Hampton) and 10C (East Hampton to Montauk) buses are running today. There is no service on all other Suffolk Transit bus lines today except the S47 (Babylon LIRR to Robert Moses State Park.) Bus schedules.

Labor today

While Labor Day, marked each year on the first Monday in September, signifies the “end of summer” and the beginning of the back-to-school season, it’s officially a day set aside to honor American workers.

The American workforce is still recovering from the pandemic shutdowns of 2020. There were about 153 million people (age 16 and over) in the civilian workforce in the U.S. last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s down from 157.5 million in pre-pandemic 2019.

There were just under 1.4 million people employed in the Nassau-Suffolk region in July — the lowest summertime employment number in nearly a decade. About 100,000 fewer Long Islanders were employed in July than in July 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Unemployment is about 5% — down from a peak of 17.5% in April 2020, during the pandemic shutdown, when employment tumbled to 1.1 million.

There were 14 million workers age 16 and over represented by a labor union in 2020. Among states, New York had the second-highest union membership rate (22%), and South Carolina had the lowest rate (2.9%.). (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The 2019 median earnings for full-time, year-round workers in the U.S. was $53,544 for males and $43,494 for females. (U.S. Census Bureau)

The 2019 median household income in the U.S. was $68.703. In Suffolk County, it was $101,031 and in the Town of Riverhead it was $73,161. (U.S. Census Bureau)

In 2019, 56.4% of the people with health insurance coverage in the U.S. had employment-based coverage, while 34% were covered by a public plan (Medicaid, Medicare, VA.) Overall, 92% of people had health insurance in 2019.

The average one-way commute time of Riverhead workers was 26.4 minutes in 2019,  while the average commute time nationally increased to 27.6 minutes.

More people were working from home even before the pandemic. In 2019, 17% of workers reported working from home five days a week.

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

The holiday grew out of the early days of the American labor movement at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the the late 19th century. It was a time when the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks, when young children worked in factories, mills and mines, when people often worked in very unsafe working conditions. Labor unions were becoming more vocal and more powerful. They began organizing strikes and protest rallies, demanding better working conditions and the right to collectively negotiate wages and hours.

Labor Day was first celebrated on on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City, with a parade and a massive picnic organized by the Central Labor Union. New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to declare a Labor Day holiday.

Labor Day did not become a federal holiday until 1894, following the Pullman strike and nationwide railway boycott in May of that year, which crippled railroad traffic. When the federal government sent troops to Chicago to break the strike, it touched off riots that resulted in the deaths of more than a dozen workers.

Against this backdrop of massive unrest, Congress, hoping to improve relations with American workers and unions, passed legislation making Labor Day a federal legal holiday. At that point 23 states had already done the same.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.