Department of Labor and Regulation

Title - Labor Market Information Center

Stuff yourself with Thanksgiving-related economic and labor market bites

Competing claims exist for Thanksgiving Day's roots, but one of the most well-known grade-school accounts occurred in Plymouth Colony (present-day Massachusetts), where colonists and Wampanoag Indians gathered to give thanks during a three-day feast.

More than 200 years later, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation setting aside the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. For more than three-quarters of a century, subsequent presidents issued Thanksgiving proclamations for the same Thursday. However, in 1939 the final Thursday fell on the last day of the month. Many people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping, which meant there would be only 24 shopping days before Christmas. Retailers feared this limited window would lead to lower sales in an economy already suffering from the decade-long Great Depression. In response, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed the second-to-last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. About half the states refused to recognize the non-traditional date and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday. States remained divided for the next two years. In the three-year span, the extra week did not deliver a significant expansion of retail sales. In December of 1941, Congress settled the matter by passing a law that officially made Thanksgiving Day a national holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

This year Thanksgiving is almost as late in November as it was in 1939. These days, many retailers have taken a different route in an attempt to draw in more customers by starting sales on Thanksgiving Day. Yet at its heart, Thanksgiving is still a time for family and friends to gather, celebrate, dine and reflect on the things for which they are thankful.

If you are hosting the Thanksgiving feast in 2013, it will cost you almost one percent less than last year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). The cost of the fall feast for 10 people decreased to $49.04 from $49.48 over the year. The table lists the foods and prices the AFBF used to prepare its traditional Thanksgiving feast.

Thanksgiving cost table

A 16-pound turkey struts in at $21.76 in 2013 (down 2.1 percent from 2012). It gobbles up slightly less than half of the Thanksgiving dinner expenses as shown in the following chart.

Turkey dinner chart

AFBF began conducting its informal price survey in 1986. To ensure consistent price comparisons, the menu for the dinner has remained the same since the survey began. This year the bureau asked 167 volunteer shoppers from 34 states to look for the best prices. Participants did not use coupons or partake in special promotions (like receiving a free turkey by spending a certain amount on other items). For more information, visit AFBF's website.

Talking Turkey and Giving Thanks in South Dakota

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, the turkey industry in the United States raised 254 million turkeys in 2012, up 2 percent from the previous year. South Dakota's eastern neighbor, Minnesota, raised 46 million turkeys, the most for any state in 2012. South Dakota raised 4.6 million turkeys, placing it among the top 11 turkey-producing states.

Let's take time to give thanks to a few of the South Dakota industries that contribute to Thanksgiving celebrations. The following numbers of establishments and employees are from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), based on workers covered by unemployment insurance in the state. It excludes self-employed and unpaid family workers. Establishments are privately owned. The data are the annual averages for 2012.

We give thanks for:

The food:

Supermarkets and other grocery stores
Establishments: 191
Employees: 7,879

Poultry and egg production
Establishments: 6
Employees: 176

Restaurants and other eating places
Establishments: 1,324
Employees: 24,912

The places that provide food to those in need:

Community food services
Establishments: 61
Employees: 213

The appliances used to prepare dinner, clean up and store leftovers:

Household appliance stores
Establishments: 55
Employees: 384

The furniture where people gather, celebrate, eat, relax and nap:

Furniture stores
Establishments: 86
Employees: 851

The televisions tuned into the parade, football games and/or TV or movie marathons:

Electronic stores
Establishments: 151
Employees: 1,246

The places that make travel possible for families and friends:

Gasoline stations
Establishments: 604
Employees: 5,902

Scheduled Passenger Air Transportation
Establishments: 10
Employees: 162

Support Activities for Air Transportation
Establishments: 28
Employees: 289

Traveler accommodation
Establishments: 462
Employees: 8,000

The U.S. Census Bureau website has more economic-related Thanksgiving facts for your perusal.

Printer-friendly version of these Thanksgiving fun facts (in Adobe .pdf format)

Happy Thanksgiving from the Labor Market Information Center and the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation!

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Marcia Hultman, Secretary
700 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2291
Tel. 605.773.3101
Fax. 605.773.6184