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US Celebrates Labor Day

FILE - People enjoy the mild weather in Central Park at the start of the Labor Day weekend in New York, Sept. 3, 2016.

The first Monday in September in the United States is Labor day, a holiday honoring U.S. workers and their contributions to the country's economy.

It became an official holiday in 1894 after a push by the nation's labor unions. For decades, cities used the occasion to stage large parades honoring unionized factory workers.

Labor unions have seen their membership fall steadily in the past three decades with the growth of technology and the globalization of the world economy. However, workers' benefits the unions fought for decades ago are now customary in most U.S. workplaces, including five-day work weeks, health care insurance and vacations paid for by employers.

Many union members now work for local, state and federal governments in white-collar jobs, not in the gritty factories where the labor movement began.

The holiday has also come to signal the unofficial end of summer in the U.S. . Most workers have the holiday off. In some communities, Labor Day is the last day before the school year starts for children.