It may be hard to believe, but the dog days of summer are descending upon us once again, and as is the case every year, they bring with them the arrival of Labor Day–our annual, national holiday designed to recognize the immeasurable contributions made to our nation by its working men and women.
For most Americans, Labor Day carries with it a certain degree of bittersweet flavor, marking as it does the unofficial ‘end of summer’ and the approaching autumnal season. Annually celebrated on the first Monday in September, Labor Day was created by the nation’s labor movement in the late 19th century, and became an official federal holiday in 1894.
Still, it is only appropriate that more than a century after its creation, Labor Day continues to annually honor America’s working men and women. It’s not an overstatement to say that this nation was built—and well into the 21st century, continues to thrive—in large part based on the often unheralded hard labor of millions of Americans, whose names and faces we will likely never know.
Despite the tectonic economic shifts brought about by new technology over the last several decades, the foundations of American commerce are still greatly dependent on the actual labor of the American worker.
Even in the ‘Information Age’, as a nation we rely daily upon the foods grown by American farmers, the goods delivered by our truck drivers, or the roads and homes built by the nation’s construction workers; for millions of other Americans, technology has replaced the plow or the hammer as their workplace ‘tool’, yet their work and dedication still provides the foundations for successful companies, large and small.
Our company, Sackett National Holdings, along with our subsidiaries, provides a classic example of how innovative state-of-the-art technology succeeds when it is paired with dedicated, skilled employees. We proudly consider our company, and all of our subsidiaries, to be very ‘tech savvy’ and constantly on the lookout for new, innovative ways to utilize technology to help our customers succeed in their respective industries.
Still, despite our commitment to technological innovation, our Senior Management team fully recognizes that a large part of our company’s continued growth and success is due to—and reliant upon—the skills and dedication of our staff. The high degree of attention we as a company pay to quality customer service is fully reliant upon the hard work and commitment of our employees, and every department within our company reflects both the entrepreneurial dedication and concerted efforts of our staff to serving our clients’ needs.
Computers, and technology in general, can provide wonderful tools to help a business succeed; however, no technology can—nor likely ever will—replace the personalized service and attention to individual customer needs provided by a skilled and dedicated employee.
These days, we often hear much talk about how ‘nothing is ever made in America anymore.’ And while there can be no doubt that globalization has resulted in some dramatic shifts in the American economy, here’s a few facts to consider before we write off America’s capacity to ‘make things here’ in the new millennium:
- The American manufacturing sector supports approximately 17.1 million indirect jobs in the United States;
- In addition, it’s estimated that about 12 million Americans are still directly employed in manufacturing, for a total of 29.1 million jobs directly and indirectly supported by American manufacturing, as of 2013, representing more than one-fifth (21.3 percent) of total U.S. employment
- By comparison, as of 2013, there were about 4 million Americans working in what is considered to be the nation’s “core” technology sector; of course, millions more Americans—both blue and white collar workers—utilize technology as part of their daily work.
And in the 21st century, as was the case in the previous century, perhaps no single American manufacturing sector better symbolizes the pairing of technology with dedicated labor than the American auto industry; in previous columns, I’ve noted the dramatic, and impressive, post-recession resurgence of the American automotive sector.
As an automotive industry leader actively partnering with thousands of auto dealerships nationwide, our company’s subsidiary–National Credit Center–is fortunate to contribute to, and participate in, that amazing resurgence.
But don’t take my word for it—the numbers speak for themselves.
- Between December 2009 and December 2014, the number of jobs in the auto manufacturing category rose by 230,700 (from 653,300 to 884,000)
- Over the same period, the number of jobs in the auto dealer category rose by 272,200 (from 1,616,800 to 1,889,000).
- When those two related figures are combined, the total increase in automotive jobs over the past five years is 502,900
By any yardstick you may choose to use, that is an extraordinarily impressive recovery for an industry that skeptics were saying was near death as recently as a half dozen years ago.
The lesson from the auto industry’s re-emergence as an economic powerhouse is that even in the new millennium, American business and labor can—and very often do—work in tandem, thereby creating a mutually beneficial relationship that provides gainful, productive employment as well as a solid ROI (return on investment) for employers.
And so as Americans once again prepare to enjoy our annual, national day celebrating the achievements and contributions of American labor, I think it’s worthwhile to pause for a moment and reflect on the efforts and dedication of the American worker.
Yes, the new millennium and its technology brings with it many changes in the American workplace; and yes, globalization means that American companies—and workers—are competing on a much larger stage than at any time in our history.
But anyone who underestimates the resilience and dedication of America’s working men and women need look no further than our automotive industry.
For not unlike the nation’s auto industry, America’s working men and women are resilient and dedicated; and as a result, the American Dream is also still very much alive and well, and worth celebrating this Labor Day.