Today's special significance reminds me of how pay has not kept up with inflation.
Here's my story: After I finished high school I scored a nice job at Canadian General Electric. I say "nice" as the pay was eight dollars per hour; my dad laughed when I told him the rate of remuneration. Even though I long had plans to go on to post secondary education, the idea of getting a good paying job the summer after graduating from high school was appealing to me. (I should note that that pay rate was for a relief worker, which is what I was to CGE.)
Here's the rub. I checked the Bank of Canada's 'cost of living' website and used its onboard conversion calculator. That eight dollars in 1981 is the equivalent of twenty dollars in today's currency.
Now, where am I going with this?
Next time you chat with a recent high school graduate, ask them what kind of pay they've been offered in their quest for a summer job; if they can even get a summer job. I'm amazed at how many young people I meet who cannot get work for the summer. They have to take volunteer work just so they have something for the resume. (Volunteer work is valued, of course, but paid gigs are nice, especially in anticipation of moving on to university or community college.)
My first summer here in Toronto was in 1985, and jobs were aplenty back then. I had two offers; I just took the first one that came along.
Just as insidious are the "staffing agencies". Companies pay them about
17/18 dollars per hour, per person, and the agency turns around and pays the worker minimum
wage. (The adult rate in Ontario is $11.25 per hour. Do the math.)
It's all about keeping people poor. It's also artificial and unnecessary. These companies have to be regulated and bound with restrictions as to how much they can "skim". (Governments won't make a move because they don't care about the working poor.)
Yes, Labour Day. We have a long way to go, baby; or, even better, we have a long way to go back. Baby.