Paul Butler | Gratitude at work

Paul Butler: Going the Extra Mile

Recently, I was reflecting on all the reasons we have to be grateful for our work in this land of plenty, and here are seven that stood out to me: 

  1. Biggest economy in the world: At the top of the list is the United States, which, according to Investopedia, has held the leading position since 1871. With economic size comes a wealth of opportunities for both employees and entrepreneurs. In 2023, our gross domestic product is forecasted to be $27 trillion, or about $80,000 per capita. In second place is China with $18 trillion and a much lower per capita of about $13,000.  

It’s often said that the measure of a great country is that more people want to get in than get out. The United States has grown by nearly 13% in population since 2006, proving that it is still the land of opportunity for those who want to work. 

  1. Biggest in the United States: The economy of California is the largest in the United States, boasting a $3.5 trillion gross state product as of 2023, with a per capita income of about $90,000. As a sovereign nation, California would rank as the world’s fifth-largest economy, ahead of India and behind Germany, according to Wikipedia. 

With nearly 40 million people, California is the nation’s most populous state — its population is much larger than that of second-place Texas (30 million) and third-place Florida (22 million). 

While California has experienced its slowest rates of population growth ever recorded and an unprecedented migration of residents to other states, from 2006 to 2022, California’s population grew by 8%.  

With such a substantial population, nearly 40 million, all in need of products and services, finding work and excelling at it becomes inevitable. 

  1. Retirement benefits: Of the 195 countries in the world, less than half operate a social security system for their employees. If you’re an employee, have you ever stopped to consider that your employer matches dollar for dollar the deduction they take from your paycheck for Social Security and Medicare? Additionally, defined benefit and defined contribution plans are often made available by employers. 
  1. SUTA and FUTA: Have you ever stopped to consider that your employer contributes to both a state (SUTA) and federal (FUTA) unemployment and workforce assistance program? These programs cost you nothing and are completely funded by employers. 
  1. Minimum wage: While it’s true that the vast majority of countries operate a minimum wage, the United States, in comparable terms, offers one of the highest in the world, even when taking into account purchasing power parity (i.e., allowing for the cost of living). 
  1. Vacation and sick pay: Although technically considered a “fringe” benefit (meaning U.S. employers are not required by law to provide either of them), more and more employers are offering vacation and sick pay to their employees. That’s like free money, right? 
  1. Overtime: Have you ever stopped to give thanks if you’re an employee to the fact that your employer is required to pay a minimum of 1.5 times your basic hourly rate if you work more than 40 hours a week and are a non-exempt employee (meaning not exempt from earning overtime)? There are many countries around the world where this is just not the case, and “overtime pay” is a foreign concept. 

The phrase “a more perfect union” is found in the preamble to the United States Constitution, and I sadly think this is overlooked in 2023, especially in our workplaces. This indeed is a country where corruption is not the norm. It’s a country where, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or religion, you can do your work without fear. 

We’re working in an imperfect country but still a “more perfect union” than many countries around the world. I am sure we can all agree that this is a union whereby, if you work hard and work well, you really should have a heart of gratitude for a system that not only provides and protects its people but also creates a platform for them to thrive. 

For these seven reasons, and many more, I am grateful to be living and working in the United States of America. 

Paul Butler is a Santa Clarita resident and a client partner with Newleaf Training and Development of Valencia ( The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Signal newspaper. For questions or comments, email Butler at [email protected].  

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