The Inside Outside Guys: Labor Appreciation
By: Ken Calverly and Chuck Breidenstein
This past week we all celebrated Labor Day, more as a harbinger of the change of seasons than a celebration of the great workforce that built this nation and continues to keep it moving forward.
In Michigan the event is marked, in part, by a bridge walk across one of the largest suspension bridges in the world by 26,000 trusting souls who likely have little understanding of what it took to construct such an edifice.
Building such a structure where none existed is referred to as “Leading Edge Construction” and it can be dangerous. It took the efforts of more than 10,000 people to create, assemble and erect the bridge.
Five workers perished during the construction of the Mighty Mac, which was originally designed to last for “half-a-century”, that milestone having been passed more than a decade ago.
The technology for constructing the footings for those grand towers is only a few hundred years old, developed to build the Brooklyn Bridge.
Back then, large, watertight boxes were floated out on the river and sunk above the future location of the supporting towers. Every day, men and pickaxes were lowered into these caissons beneath the waves where they excavated down to bedrock, removing buckets full of excavated overburden one at a time to the surface. Twenty-four workers perished on that project as the industry used trial and error to complete the leading-edge components.
The caissons for “Mac’s” towers are 116 feet in diameter. Once the hollowed containers were firmly located on good load-bearing soils, they were backfilled to the surface with concrete. Amazing work accomplished over four years by a few thousand dedicated souls.
It is important to look back as we move forward to really appreciate the fantastic work accomplished by our labor forces. More than 25,000 workers perished during the construction of the Panama Canal and another 107 died building the Hoover Dam, yet today these projects continue to serve us and help us maintain a fantastic lifestyle.
Every day, nearly 160 million people go to work in this country to keep things moving as expected. And 30% of that workforce is employed by small businesspeople who have, quite literally, created their own jobs and those of their employees.
Interestingly, construction is not the most dangerous of those service sector careers. It maintains sixth position behind such industries as retail and health care.
The largest age demographic in the country’s workforce today is the millennials, ages 23-38, comprising about one-third of the total force. This group is more likely to constantly be on the lookout for advancement opportunities, whereas the baby boomers tended to enter a career path and stay with it through retirement.
Surprisingly, whether due to desire or necessity, 20% of adults 65 and older choose to remain in the workforce full or part time.
That great advice dispensed by parents for the last several decades to “go to college” apparently actually pays off as the median salary for college graduates aged 25-37 is almost $25,000 more per year than their contemporaries with no post-high-school training.
The same data seems to support the alternative choice of entering a trade where you are trained to a specific skill set on the job. This group also enjoys far higher career earnings than those who stopped advancing their education after high school.
And job-safety protocols are in place throughout the workforce to protect this precious commodity as business owners today recognize the importance of keeping employees safe, motivated and happy.
So, whether you are in the repeating three-month cycle of cleaning the 26,000 hand-cut exterior glass panels on the worlds tallest building in Dubai, or serving tasty lattes to harried commuters on their way to work, let’s take a moment to look around us and look in the mirror to acknowledge and celebrate the dedicated workforce of this great country.
Workers like those you’ll find employed by the great companies at InsideOutsideGuys.com.