Jimmy Carter photo

Message on the Observance of Labor Day, 1980

August 04, 1980

My best wishes and thanks go to you on this 99th annual Labor Day. This is a time for us all to acknowledge the achievements of American workers.

The United States has the world's most productive work force. With your dedication and skills, you have built the world's highest standard of living. Our world leadership for freedom and peace would not be possible without your economic achievements.

Yet serious challenges jeopardize those achievements. Despite eight million new jobs created in our economy since 1976, unemployment has risen again. Inflation and declining productivity have sapped our economic strength.

Our first priority must be to keep in the United States the capital needed to create American jobs, capital which now flows overseas to pay for oil. In three years, we have already made a dramatic reversal of our growing dependence on imported oil. Our energy policy, the first in our history, will reduce that dependence more in this decade.

Next, we must rebuild our aging industrial base. We must save and invest more in new tools and factories and new jobs for American workers. We must rebuild our transportation networks. We must restore our competitive edge in world trade and expand exports. We must invest in our human capital by providing workers with needed skills.

But most important, we must do all this in a way that expands economic and social justice in our country. We must protect the health and safety of workers. We must sustain aid to the poor, the ill, and the elderly. We need a new and enduring partnership of businesses, government, and labor, building from the National Accord begun a year ago.

These are more than economic challenges. They challenge our ability to pull together as a people, to look honestly at problems, to build for our long-term needs, and to look beyond quick-fix solutions and simple slogans.

Our history is one of a people diverse in backgrounds but united in common values, facing one serious challenge after another. We have faced depressions, wars, injustice, and prevailed each time. We will prevail again and, with your help, meet fully the challenges of our time.

On this day, let us give thanks for our blessings and rededicate ourselves to making this great country of ours even greater.


Jimmy Carter, Message on the Observance of Labor Day, 1980 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251533

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