KENNETT SQUARE — On Monday, millions of Americans across the nation are slated to spend the Labor Day holiday with family, friends at home or outdoors and alongside neighbors at low-key community events.
Still, the national holiday isn’t slated to make a full comeback as America remains on a path of recovery following last year’s shutdown.
This is a moment of change for labor in America. And from across the Greater Philadelphia Region, chamber of commerce leaders remain hopeful.
“It’s a very good labor market for job seekers and job changers right now,” said Dan Fogarty, Berks County Workforce Development Board, “probably the best I’ve seen in 25 years.”
He said, “This is something we have never seen before.”
Fogarty said, “For labor there’s never been more opportunities for changing jobs, changing employers or changing industries. For employers it has never been more challenging to fill increasingly good paying entry level positions especially in our critical manufacturing sector.”
“This Labor Day is filled with mixed emotions,” said Guy Ciarrocchi, president and chief executive officer of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry. “Things are better for many this year compared to last year — but, last year was a year we hope to never revisit, a year that should never be our benchmark.”
The chamber shall continue to hold numerous in-person events with a mix of Zoom, too.
On November 4, the Chester County Chamber is holding a special event at Longwood Gardens to honor Chester County Hospital CEO Mike Duncan as Executive of the Year. The annual awards ceremony event shall also recognize Dave Magrogan, CEO of the Harvest Restaurant Holdings and Dave Magrogan former co-owner of the Dilworthtown Inn, Blue Pear Bistro and Inn Keepers Kitchen, as Citizens of the Year.
“We pledged at the start of the COVID-era that our work would not be done until every business had the opportunity to be back at 100 percent and until every employee had the opportunity to go back to work — our work is not done,” Ciarrocchi said. “Best wishes and respect to all who have worked so hard to get us back to life as it should be.”
“My hope, as an executive director and a professional, is that … there’s a glimmer of light that we are able to refocus and rededicate ourselves to commerce in one of the largest counties in the United States,” said Ryan Rosenbaum, executive director for the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce in King of Prussia.
Steve Catanese is the president of SEIU Local 668, a member-driven labor union representing nearly 20,000 workers across Pennsylvania. He said people can support every day workers by treating them with compassion.
“A worker is a person,” Catanese said. “We’re all human beings, we deserve basic dignity and respect.”
“Chester County owes a debt of gratitude to all the workers, those in the trades, in the classroom, and on the frontlines, who continuously work to make our community stronger,” said Chester County Commissioner Josh Maxwell. He serves as vice-chair on the board.
Maxwell said with more than 227K residents in the labor force, 96 percent are employed.
“Chester County’s labor force is strong,” Maxwell said. “Our residents are committed to using their skills to better the community.
The commissioner said, “There is a lot to be thankful for as we celebrate Labor Day this year. Last year our unemployment numbers were higher, we are now down to about a 4 percent unemployment rate. Jobs are plentiful.”
He said popular events happening in Chesco this Labor Day weekend include the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show and Country Fair, in addition to the festive shows at Longwood Gardens.
“Celebrate the unofficial end of summer with us all weekend long with fountain performances daily,” said Abbey Gau, marketing and communications specialist for Longwood Gardens.
From Thursday through Saturday, folks can enjoy live music during the evening in the world-renowned bototicial garden’s beer garden followed by an Illuminated Fountain Show at 8:15 p.m.
September 5, this Sunday night, with the purchase of a special ticket, people enjoy a special and “spectacular” It’s Always Sunny At Longwood Gardens Fireworks & Fountains Show. A special ticket is required.
“The hospitality industry is still greatly impacted by the labor shortage, particularly part-time workers at restaurants and hotels, so patience is encouraged,” said Susan Hamley, Executive Director, Chester County Conference & Visitors Bureau.
She said thankfully dedicated teams throughout the county have kept businesses afloat working long hours to help during this critical time. However, Hamley added, many organizations have had to amend hours of operation and some have even had to turn away customers due to a lack of help.”
“Tourism in general continues to recover from 2020, with occupancy for all months this summer topping last year. July in particular was more than 50 percent higher. It will take a while to get back to 2019 levels but we’re encouraged that the trajectory is headed in the right direction,” Hamley said.
“Our messaging matches the delivery of wide open spaces in our campaign ‘We Have Room.’ Longwood Garden packages, outdoor experiences like canoeing down the Brandywine or hiking and biking through our parks and outdoor festivals all resonate with visitors as safe and welcoming. Festivals and events have returned in 2021, many after a year’s hiatus, such as the Kennett Mushroom Festival and Chester County Balloon Festival,” Hamley said.