U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Labor Day letter focused on the challenges facing American workers and families.

Labor Day will be observed on Monday, Sept. 5, this year.

There are “deep trials in both the world of work and the state of the family,” said Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami, the letter’s author.

Calling attention to widespread poverty facing middle and rural America, the letter cited “stagnant wages, industry leaving towns and cities behind, and the sharp decline in the rate of private-sector organized labor” as underlying causes.

Communities and families are struggling due to financial challenges resulting from these labor trends and issues.

“Over half of parents between the ages of 26 and 31 now have children outside of a marriage, and research shows a major factor is the lack of middle-skill jobs – careers by which someone can sustain a family above the poverty line without a college degree – in regions with high income inequality,” Archbishop Wenski wrote.

He added, “Divorce rates and the rate of single-parent households break down along similar educational and economic lines. Financial concerns and breakdowns in family life can lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair.”

Despite the challenges, the letter offered a hopeful vision in which people of faith make a positive impact by practicing solidarity and subsidiarity.

“Solidarity recognizes that each of us is connected, and that we all have the responsibility to care for one another, particularly those who are poor and vulnerable,” Archbishop Wenski explained.

He said, “The principle of subsidiarity recognizes that issues facing human beings should be addressed at the appropriate level of society with the capacity to do so, and often in concert with others.”

Several resources were provided at the end of the letter, including an introduction to Catholic social teaching on labor and an overview of Catholic social teaching on poverty.

EthicsDaily.com has resources available to help people of faith reflect on, discuss and engage issues related to Labor Day concerns and issues.

Work and wages:

How Evangelicals Abandoned Organized Labor

Labor, Wages Often Overlooked as Sermon Topics

Labor Day and Faith: Rauschenbusch’s Prayers for Workers

18 Resources for Labor Day Reflection

Ethics in manufacturing and labor:

Baptist World Aid Australia Grades Fashion Companies’ Ethics

Report: Forced and Child Labor Prevalent in Electronic Manufacturing

Holding Fashion Industry Accountable for Worker Safety

Global Religious Leaders Pledge to Eradicate Modern Slavery

Sabbath and rest:

Our Workaholic Busyness Keeps Us from Sabbath

Easing the Burden on Our Stressed-Out Families

Inching Closer to Achieve Work-Life Balance for All

Will Your Church Connect with Sunday Workers?

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