Workers celebrate Labor Day with trek across the Savannah

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September 4, 2006

Hundreds of people turned out for Labor Day celebrations today...some to mark workers' rights, others just to enjoy the unofficial end of summer.

Almost a dozen local unions marched across the river from North Augusta to the Augusta Common this morning to celebrate.

It was a three-mile tribute to American workers of the past, present, and future.

Jerry Hall is one of more than 400 union workers and family that made the yearly journey across the river. For him and for fellow union member Russell Britt, it's a day to celebrate the hundreds of thousands of new jobs the labor department predicts our area will have at the end of the decade.

"Each individual can just reflect on what labor has done for them over the years, and we hope to carry the tradition on," Britt said.

That tradition includes a several thousand dollar a year raise for workers in the recent decade, and the roughly 900 unemployed local workers who found jobs this year.

It's a trend Georgia gubernatorial candidate Mark Taylor hopes will continue.

"We're celebrating the jobs that we have to make Georgia more comparable, to bring more jobs to the area," he said today.

For Georgia and South Carolina, projections show the fastest growing industries are healthcare, education, and service industries such as restaurants and childcare. The construction industry is expected to stay the same, and the textile industry is expected to drop.

Current workers like Jerry Hall have a lot to be thankful for.

"The meaning of Labor Day for me is family and friends recognizing labor people throughout the US," he said.

Throughout the country and our area, it's a day of celebration for past improvements and the future of our economy.

The Department of Labor predicts a 17% increase in the Georgia and South Carolina labor markets. That translates to millions of jobs.

Labor Day is a century old tradition, always celebrated on the first Monday in September.

The first time it was celebrated was 1882. The celebration was held by the central labor union in New York.

After that, cities started marking the holiday, then states, until finally Congress passed a national Labor Day in 1894.

Georgia and South Carolina Projected Industry Growth
Healthcare: 3.2 %
Education: 2.3 %
Service: 3.2 %
Construction: Same
Textile: -3.5 %
-Source: Department of Labor