Labor Day is sure different this year.
This annual celebration of American workers gave us much reason to rejoice a mere 12 months ago. Most everyone who wanted a job had one as the national unemployment rate sat at a scant 3.5%, and the local rate just 4.7%.
Fast forward to the present. An unforeseen pandemic arrived, turning the job market on its head in March. The situation here is indicative of what happened elsewhere, as the 4.7% jobless figure from a year ago ballooned to 9.5%.
So there is clearly less to celebrate this year. But hard times tend to teach valuable lessons, and there is something to be learned from this crisis.
Remember all the talk about “essential’’ workers at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak? In many ways, it was galling, as it’s easy to argue all work has value. But certain types of employment continued unfettered while others came to an abrupt halt.
In essence, some work was deemed more essential than other types, and there is no question nothing is more vital than health care. As the pandemic spread, the call was put out for retired health care professionals to return to the field as the need for their services was dire.
That need existed before the pandemic, and will afterward, too. What does this tell you? A career in the health care field provides both a stable and rewarding existence.
Those careers are available here in considerable numbers as we are blessed to have two major hospitals in Kankakee — AMITA St. Mary’s Hospital and Riverside Medical Center. There is also Iroquois Memorial Hospital in Watseka and a myriad of other health care facilities throughout the region.
As any health care worker will tell you, the jobs can be tough and demanding. But it’s tougher to be jobless. Those entering the workforce and those retraining for a different career should take notice. Want to enjoy each and every Labor Day? Then work in health care.