Senate District 18
John Eklund
Labor Day and Ohio's Growing Workforce: Past, Present, Future
A Guest Column by State Senator John Eklund
September 3, 2015

Labor Day is a time to recognize the contributions of Ohio’s past and present workforce. It is also a time to reexamine how we address our workforce needs in the future so that workers are adequately equipped to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. 

In 1890, Ohio enacted legislation that designated a day to honor the state’s workforce—four years before Labor Day became a national holiday. State Representative John Green (R-Cleveland) introduced the legislation to create a statewide day of celebration for workers. Green later became the first African-American to serve in the Ohio Senate.

At that time, the state's growing education system, centrality to major markets, abundant natural resources and access to interstate railroads, canals and roadways made Ohio the ideal location for industry.

Labor Day is about more than just retail discounts and a three-day weekend; it is a tribute to the resilience and ingenuity of our modern workforce, which must constantly adapt to meet the demands of industry and technology.
As industries evolve, so must our workforce. Developing today’s workforce requires a multi-faceted approach, one that promotes more training opportunities for new workers and programs for existing workers to enhance their skills.

As four-year degree attainment rises, graduates are finding it difficult to compete for jobs that require those degrees. Meanwhile, Ohio employers are struggling to find qualified workers to fill available, in-demand, and high-paying jobs. In light of the shrinking average family size, our economy is facing a serious threat. That is why the Ohio Senate has made jobs & opportunity its No. 1 priority. 

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Governor Kasich and leaders in the Ohio General Assembly, Ohio has created more than 360,000 new private sector jobs since 2010. According to the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, Ohio’s unemployment rate is less than 5 percent, outperforming the national average of 5.3 percent. We have come a long way but jobs & opportunity must remain our top priority in order to ensure that Ohio remains an excellent place to live, work and raise a family.

Shaping our state’s workforce for the 21st century and beyond requires state government, private sector leaders, and our partners in higher education and workforce training to work harmoniously with one another to equip more Ohioans for success in the workplace. 

Ohio is fortunate to have so many talented workers who contribute to the our state's growing economy. As your State Senator, I will continue to fight for a strong, safe and prosperous workforce. I hope that you and your family enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

If I can ever be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact my office by phone at (614) 644-7718 or e-mail at

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