Maybe like everyone, I’m reminded at this time of year, as late summer begins to blend into early autumn, of the central idea behind the creation of our annual federal holiday, Labor Day.
What is Labor Day, and what does it really call attention to, in the grand scheme of our lives?
Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day is broadly defined as an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday began in the 19th century, when labor activists sought a federal day of recognizing the many contributions that workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.
Our “prosperity and well-being” is certainly on the rise in Clarksville and Montgomery County. We need only to look at the data for affirmation.
Our community’s total, combined payroll, according to latest statistics, is now well over $2.8 billion for all industry sectors combined. And that figure only continues to climb as we see average per capita and household incomes grow simultaneously.
We have what economists tend to define as nearly “full employment” in our community. The monthly unemployment rate for the Clarksville area, recorded by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, is currently sitting at just slightly above 4%.
Our schools, higher education, vocational training centers, and the workforce development specialists in our midst continue to work collectively on innovative solutions, with the singular goal of enabling everyone to succeed, and realize their full potential in work and careers.
But in truth, this comprehensive strategy for growing a solid workforce, as vital as it is, is only as good as that almost-intangible quality within the people that it serves.
In Clarksville and Montgomery County, we have great people.
We know this, and so does the rest of the world.
One of the main reasons why our community has become increasingly successful in attracting a wide range of employers – some of them being global in reach – is simply, the reputation that our people are inherently, exceptional.
To support our national and international economic appeal, we have geographical location and cost of living working to our advantage, to be sure.
But we also know that our labor force is uniquely skilled and diverse, and most importantly, driven to succeed.
We have a mix of military and civilian, trained to excel in the modern economy. Many of these military retirees stay after exiting active duty, and they contribute in infinite ways to business success through a wealth of transferable skills.
We have unique diversity in all aspects, and a greater understanding and acceptance of what inclusivity really means.
Our total community, as illustrated by the labor sector, is proving that all of us — with all of the many worldly life experiences we have collectively accumulated — can aid, support, and really teach each other.
Within our own family of City employees, of which I am eternally proud, this is something we talk about and foster on a daily basis. We genuinely appreciate each other.
And as we put this into practice throughout the local workforce, the world and so many of its job-creating employers are watching and wanting to be part of this local dynamic.
Formal training is complemented in our community by the intangibles of work ethic, ambition, dependability, and an ability to recognize how each person is instrumental for the sum of the whole.
So, what are we really celebrating on Labor Day? Maybe it’s only partly a recognition of the impact of labor on economic conditions.
I would submit that what we are honoring, is people. On my daily rounds, I see you at work, and I have the honor and privilege of getting to know you.
The people who keep our community moving with the heart that they put into the skills of their hands and minds, because they want to, and because it’s right – that is what we celebrate this holiday weekend, I feel.
To all of these good people in Clarksville, I am proud to be your Mayor.
Happy Labor Day!