By Steve Howell

Labor Day is being celebrated across the United States today with people holding parties, picnics and parades.

The first Monday in September became a federal holiday in 1894, to celebrate the economic and social contribution of workers.

It has come to symbolise the end of summer for many Americans, and in sport it marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons.

In a Presidential election year, Labor Day is seen as a point where the campaigns step up a gear. President Barack Obama is heading for the South today to offer promises of help to those flooded out by Hurricane Isaac before going to Ohio to rally the labor vote.

Speaking to the United Auto Workers, Obama is expected to emphasize his support of the auto bailout that his rival in the White House race, Mitt Romney, opposed.

The recoveries of General Motors and Chrysler have been recurrent themes in Obama’s re-election campaign, particularly in states such as Michigan and the battleground of Ohio.

“When the auto industry was on the verge of collapse, he said, ‘Let’s let Detroit go bankrupt,’” Obama said of Romney during a campus rally in Boulder, Colo., on Sunday.

“I’ve got a different vision for America. I bet on American workers and I bet on American manufacturing. And today, the U.S. auto industry has come roaring back.”

Republican Mitt Romney visited hurricane-hit Louisana on Friday after accepting his party’s presidential nomination one night earlier.

Romney is understood to be spending much of this week in New Hampshire and Vermont preparing for three debates with Obama in October.

Meanwhile, his running mate Paul Ryan visits North Carolina today as the first stop on a tour taking in Iowa, Colorado, California and Washington state.

The Democrat Convention starts tomorrow in Charlotte, North Carolina, and culminates with Obama addressing a rally of 100,000 supporters on Friday.