NAPERVILLE (CBS) — Labor Day is a day to honor the American worker, but at a time when the national unemployment rate is over 9 percent, this year’s holiday has a bit of a different feel.
Naperville’s “Last Fling,” a weekend-long Labor Day celebration highlighted by a parade on Monday, is an end-of-summer tradition — complete with marching bands, first responders and politicians.
As CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, this year’s parade in Naperville had a bit of a different feel, due to the stagnant economy.
The “Last Fling” is a tradition that Estelle Wroble has enjoyed every year for 45 years.
“It gives you a sense of what this town is all about,” she said.
But it’s tough to celebrate Labor Day when you don’t have a job and Joe Fassl, who once worked for an investment firm, hasn’t had a job for three years. He said it seems to be getting tougher.
“Of course. I mean, you look at the unemployment rate – the people that are actually applying for benefits,” he said. “I’ve already run out of my benefits and … it’s family and friends that are helping me out.”
Then, there’s Chuck Lesnik – a general contractor and construction supervisor. He’s worked just seven months out of the last 12 and he expects to be laid off again on Wednesday.
“In my opinion … somehow the Congress, the President … getting construction going again, especially in residential,” Lesnik said. “There’s just so many people out of work, I don’t know how they’re ever going to recover.”
To be sure, affluent Naperville is better off economically than many towns, but Wroble worries just where the jobs will come from.
“In order for the economy to be moving, you have to have people spending money and if they don’t have any money to spend, we’re not going to be moving, so something’s got to be done,” she said.