By Byron McNutt

DHI Media

Labor Day is a chance to take a break from our routines and honor the contributions of those who have built America into the world’s No. 1 economic power.

As we relax and reflect, we need to realize that we are near full employment and must be open to the idea that we have room in America for an influx of new workers who want a shot at the American Dream.

Labor Day was the idea of brothers Matthew and Peter Maquire, labor union leaders. They proposed the idea in 1882. It’s the first Monday in September because it marks the end of the summer season and it’s midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

Baby boomers, who built the modern economic engine, are aging themselves out of the workforce at the rate of 10,000 each and every day.

America’s birthrate has declined and we’ll need a steady supply of new workers to continue the growth cycle. Our Medicare and Social Security programs will face a bleak future if the workforce lags and the economy grinds to a halt because of a labor shortage.

Mike Rowe, TV host of “Dirty Jobs” has traveled the world in search of stories about interesting jobs. He had many men and women tell him their chosen professions are “the best job I ever had!”

He got that response from all walks of life: roughnecks, fishermen, welders, roustabouts, plumbers, electricians, lumberjacks, truck drivers, soldiers and diesel engine mechanics, just to name a few.

The point Rowe was making was the vast majority of jobs do not require a four-year college degree. They do require some trade school training and a desire to be the best that you can be.

If you love what you do, and are committed to excellence, you can earn a six-figure income. Many workers become business owners. There is honor in all work.

Rowe says it is impossible to know who or what will influence our capacity to learn or challenge our intellect in a meaningful way.

You might find in your path to adulthood that your most influential teacher taught music at your high school, was your soccer coach or the English teacher at a community college. You will find inspiration in many unlikely places. The key is to recognize it and take advantage of it.

This Labor Day, honor the American workforce, which numbers nearly 180 million. Acknowledge that economic growth will be driven by people across sectors and across geographies.

Show gratitude to the workers who built the economy and made America the greatest country in the world. As important, we must invest in the workers who will do the same for generations to come.