What Does Labor Day Mean to Freelancers?

Labor Day was first observed in 1882 by the Central Labor Union of New York to create a holiday for workers and to celebrate trade unions. Cities and states began to recognize the day, and, in 1892, the US Congress designated the first Monday in September for the annual observance of Labor Day. The recognition of Labor Day demonstrates the power of organized labor, especially a hundred years ago. Parades and picnics are traditional Labor Day events.

Jim Blasingame, the Small Business Advocate, points out in his newsletter every year that there is no Small Business Day, even though “small businesses account for about 75% of new jobs created in the country,” according to the Small Business Administration. About half of all employees work for small businesses.

The government’s report on small business for 2005 (released in December 2006) states:

…of the nearly 26 million firms in the United States, most are very small—97.5 percent of employer and nonemployer firms have fewer than 20 employees. Yet cumulatively, these firms account for half of our nonfarm real gross domestic product, and they have generated 60 to 80 percent of the net new jobs over the past decade.

But what about those of us who are self-employed? The same report indicates:

The estimated number of nonemployer firms also reached a new high, at 19.86 million.

That means that two-thirds of small businesses have no employees. Freelancers fall into this category. Writers and designers often think of themselves as creative rather than entrepreneurial. However, to be successful, we have to be both.

My guess is that many of us will be working at least part of this holiday weekend. I hadn’t intended to work, but I have a client – a self-employed consultant – who has a big project starting next week, and she needs my help in preparing the training materials for her workshops. So she’ll be working … and I’ll be working while workers employed by small and large businesses will have a day off.

However, even if we’re not honored with a national holiday, and though I’ll be working at least part of the time on the holiday, I am delighted that I am a freelancer and not an employee. Maybe I work a lot harder and longer than I would if I reported to an 8-5 job, but I do it by choice. I have the freedom to tell my client I’m not available if I want, or I can do the work for her between midnight and 5 AM if I prefer. And if I choose to take off later in the week or next week, I can.

I give thanks every day that I do what I love and have the freedom to choose when and how it – even who I work with. There may not be a national holiday to celebrate self-employment, but, to me, every day is a day to celebrate.

Whether you’re a part of organized labor, an employee who isn’t a union member, an employer, or a self-employed freelancer, have a blessed, happy, and safe Labor Day.

[tags]Labor Day, self-employment, small business, holiday[/tags]

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