Can you really not wear white after Labor Day? Plus, 18 Labor Day facts

Labor Day lands on Monday, Sept. 2 this year.

Along with providing a long weekend to wrap up summer, Labor Day rewards the perseverance and hard work of employees by giving them an extra day to sign off and relax.

And that's exactly what President Lyndon B. Johnson had in mind when he signed the Uniform Holiday Bill into law in 1968 — an assurance that the holiday would always land on a Monday (and a Labor Day fact you might not already know).

While Johnson was responsible for Labor Day always falling on a Monday, it was President Grover Cleveland who made it a national holiday way back in 1894 (another piece of trivia to add to your collection).

We've got a whole host of Labor Day facts you might interested in to help increase your knowledge around the holiday, why we celebrate it and other fascinating details.

Among them: Whether or not it's OK to wear white after Labor Day, a list of celebrities who have Labor Day birthdays and which Labor Day hurricane made history in 1935.

Whatever plans you've got on the calendar this year — whether it's one last day at the beach or back-to-school shopping — bring these Labor Day facts along to keep friends and family entertained.

Most importantly, don't forget to take a break because in the end, that's what Labor Day is all about.

Can you wear white after Labor Day?

This supposed remnant of high society has long since gone by the wayside. During a segment on the 3rd Hour of TODAY, lifestyle expert Kathy Buccio explained that when it comes wearing white after Labor Day, there are no rules.

“You can wear all the white in the world that you want,” Buccio said on the show.

But how did this outdated fashion commandment become a thing to begin with?

According to Emily Post, those who could afford to vacation during the hot summer months left their “city clothes” behind in favor of “light, whiter, summer outfits.” Once autumn arrived, those leisure clothes were put away and “more formal city clothes” were once again worn.

Hollywood stylist and Dhstyle Inc. CEO, Dana Asher-Levine, tells Shop TODAY that the old-fashioned sentiment might likely have arisen, in part, from simple logistics.

“Many years ago, shopping was very seasonal. You bought clothes for fall, holidays and spring and summer,” Asher-Levine says. “White was never available in the winter months. Now with fast fashion, collections changing monthly, white is a staple color year-round.”

The Labor Day hurricane of 1935

Labor Day arrives during the peak of hurricane season, and there have been a number of memorable storms on or around Labor Day weekend, including 2005's Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane David in 1979.

Among the most destructive was the unnamed hurricane of 1935 which hit the Florida Keys as the first-recorded Category 5 storm in U.S. history, leaving near total destruction in its wake. With winds of 185 mph and an estimated storm surge of 18 feet, the Labor Day hurricane claimed nearly 500 lives. It goes down as one of the worst hurricanes to ever make landfall in the contiguous United States.

On average, union members make more money than nonunion workers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among full-time and salary workers, on average, union members had a median weekly income of $1,263, while nonunion workers had median earnings of $1,090.

The gender pay gap still exists

Though pay disparity between men and women has closed considerably through the years, according to Pew Research, women on average still make only 82% of what men earn.

In 2002, women earned roughly 80% of what men earned, meaning that in two decades, pay equity has only increased by 2%.

To spotlight the gender pay gap, the National Committee on Pay Equity commemorates Equal Pay Day annually, in day marked to recognize how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.

In 2024, that day landed on March 12.

These celebrities celebrate Labor Day birthdays

There are plenty of celebrities who celebrate September birthdays that, depending on the year, occasionally land on Labor Day. They include:

  • Beyoncé (Sept. 4, 1981)

  • Keanu Reeves (Sept. 2, 1964)

  • Salma Hayek (Sept. 2, 1966)

  • Charlie Sheen (Sept. 3, 1965)

  • Mark Harmon (Sept. 2, 1951)

  • Michael Keaton (Sept. 5, 1951)

  • Evan Rachel Wood (Sept. 7, 1987)

Labor Day is a big travel weekend

Many Americans use the long holiday weekend as an opportunity to squeeze in one last getaway before summer's end. According to a survey by The Vacationer, more than half of adults planned to travel somewhere over Labor Day or Labor Day weekend last year in 2023.

In a separate survey, The Vacationer estimates that nearly 82% of all Americans plan to travel this summer and a good number of them planned to travel more than once.

Better make those reservations early — those numbers indicate that Labor Day 2024 will be a very busy travel weekend indeed.

The Destination of the Year 2024

If you're among those hitting the road or flying the friendly skies on Labor Day this year, you might be interested to know where to go.

According to Travel + Leisure, 2024's Destination of the Year is Costa Rica.

Among the many reasons to visit the Central American country? It's beautiful beaches, national parks, rain forests, limitless activities and Costa Rica's world-renowned coffee.

The top jobs in 2024

Since Labor Day is about recognizing hard work, you might be curious which jobs are considered among the best for U.S. employees. Using pay, talent, the ability to advance, stress, work-life balance and other criteria, U.S. News and World Report cites the following as the top 10 jobs of 2024:

  • Nurse practitioner

  • Financial manager

  • Software developer

  • IT manager

  • Physician assistant

  • Medical and health services manager

  • Information security analyst

  • Data scientist

  • Actuary

  • Speech-language pathologist

Labor Day was celebrated before there was a Labor Department

The U.S. Department of Labor was founded on March 4, 1913. What’s interesting about that is Labor Day itself became a federal holiday back in 1894. And the very first celebration of the holiday occurred in 1882, a full 31 years before the government agency was founded.

Other countries celebrate International Workers' Day instead of Labor Day

While Labor Day is primarily a U.S. holiday (although Canada celebrates too), many other countries recognize their laborers on what's known as International Workers' Day, also referred to as May Day or Labour Day.

According to the Department of Labor, the international version of Labor Day has American roots and is a nod to a conflict that occurred in Chicago more than a century ago. Advocating for eight-hour workdays, 300,000 workers walked out on the job on May 1, 1886. Hence, the name “May Day” and the date it's observed annually, which is May 1.

The walkout led to a violent clash between protesters and police, resulting in the deaths of both police officers and protesters in what's since been dubbed “The Haymarket Affair.”

The event serves as inspiration for fair working conditions around the world and led to the founding of International Workers Day, which is commemorated by much of Europe, Mexico, Cuba and Ghana, among other nations.

Labor Day began with a parade 

It’s widely believed that on September 5, 1882, union leaders marched in what is now considered the very first Labor Day parade. More than 10,000 New York City workers from a wide variety of industries, such as clothing makers and railroad workers (including children), took to the streets to raise awareness over unsafe working conditions.

Post-parade activities haven't changed much

After marching just under five miles from New York City’s City Hall to 42nd Street, the workers, who took unpaid leave to be at the event, met up with their families for various activities like enjoying picnics and fireworks.

Canada celebrated “Labour Day” before us

“Labour Day,” as it’s spelled by our neighbors to the north, was first celebrated in Canada in 1894 — on the first Monday of September, just like us.

Although it didn't become official until 1894, the holiday started percolating decades before that through a series of demonstrations. According to CBC News, on March 25, 1872, the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike in favor of a shorter workweek.

Many protesters were jailed, but later that year, Parliament legalized unions.

The founder of Labor Day is widely contested  

No one is completely sure who actually started Labor Day in the U.S., but it’s between two people and their last names are incredibly similar. While some records show that Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, got it going, others believe that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first sparked the concept.

Peter J. McGuire (Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images)
Peter J. McGuire (Harold M. Lambert / Getty Images)

Oregon was the first state to observe Labor Day 

Before becoming an official holiday nationwide, Labor Day was adopted state by state. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Oregon was the first one to make it a statewide holiday, a full seven years before it was passed by Congress.

President Grover Cleveland made it a federal holiday

On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day official by signing it into law, designating the first Monday in September to always be Labor Day. The day honors the American labor force and the upholding of laws that make work conditions healthier and safer.

There’s still a New York City Labor Day parade today

To this day, the New York City Central Labor Council still hosts a Labor Day parade and march, which is held just north of the location of the original 1882 march. This year, the parade will be held on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2024.

Labor Day Parade (Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)
Labor Day Parade (Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)

Labor Day is observed on a Monday for a reason

While the very first Labor Day in 1882 took place on a Tuesday, it eventually shifted to Monday after the holiday was adopted by the states.

Labor Day is also observed on a Monday so that employees can enjoy a three-day weekend. Other federal holidays that fall on the first day of the week include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Juneteenth, Indigenous Peoples' Day and Memorial Day.

Those three-day weekends will always remain intact thanks to the Uniform Holiday Bill signed by Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1968, with the former president declaring it would help Americans enjoy more time with family and provide an opportunity to travel.

The average weekly earnings for full-time workers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings of full-time workers was $1,139 in the first quarter of 2024.

Women had median weekly earnings of $1,021, or 83.2 percent of the $1,227 median for men.

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