Sunday, April 16 — Children have worked throughout history, especially on family farms and in trades. But their employment in industrialized settings raised many popular objections. On this date in 1836, Massachusetts became the first state to prohibit children under age 15 from working in factories. Massachusetts acted again six years later, limiting children’s work to 10 hours per day. But it wasn’t until the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that long, dangerous child labor was ended nationally. The restrictions on child labor scarcely dent the national labor force.
In May of last year, there were 158.5 million working Americans age 16 and older. The largest category, at 4.6 million, was in retail sales.
Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.