United States Department of Labor

The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, reemployment services, and some economic statistics; many U.S. states also have such departments. The department is headed by the U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The purpose of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the wellbeing of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights. In carrying out this mission, the Department of Labor administers and enforces more than 180 federal laws and thousands of federal regulations. These mandates and the regulations that implement them cover many workplace activities for about 10 million employers and 125 million workers.

The department's headquarters is housed in the Frances Perkins Building, named in honor of Frances Perkins, the Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945.

United States Department of Labor
Seal of the United States Department of Labor
Seal of the U.S. Department of Labor
Flag of the United States Department of Labor
Flag of the U.S. Department of Labor
Frances Perkins Building

The Frances Perkins Building, which serves as the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Labor
Agency overview
FormedMarch 4, 1913[1]
HeadquartersFrances Perkins Building
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C., U.S.
38°53′33.13″N 77°0′51.94″W / 38.8925361°N 77.0144278°WCoordinates: 38°53′33.13″N 77°0′51.94″W / 38.8925361°N 77.0144278°W
Employees17,450 (2014)
Annual budget$12.1 billion (FY 2012)[2]
Agency executives


Flag of the United States Department of Labor (1915-1960)
The former flag of the U.S. Department of Labor, used from 1914 to 1960.

In 1884 the U.S. Congress first established a Bureau of Labor Statistics with the Bureau of Labor Act,[3] to collect information about labor and employment. This bureau was under the Department of the Interior. The Bureau started collecting economic data in 1884, and published their first report in 1886.[4] Later, in 1888, the Bureau of Labor became an independent Department of Labor, but lacked executive rank.

In February 1903, it became a bureau again when the Department of Commerce and Labor was established. United States President William Howard Taft signed the March 4, 1913 bill (the last day of his presidency), establishing the Department of Labor as a cabinet-level department. William B. Wilson was appointed as the first Secretary of Labor on March 5, 1913, by President Wilson.[5] In October 1919, Secretary Wilson chaired the first meeting of the International Labour Organization even though the U.S. was not yet a member.[6]

In September 1916, the Federal Employees' Compensation Act introduced benefits to workers who are injured or contract illnesses in the workplace. The act established an agency responsible for federal workers’ compensation, which was transferred to the Labor Department in the 1940s and has become known as the Office of Workers' Compensation Programs.[7]

Frances Perkins, the first female cabinet member, was appointed to be Secretary of Labor by President Roosevelt on March 4, 1933. Perkins served for 12 years, and became the longest-serving Secretary of Labor.

During the John F. Kennedy Administration, planning was undertaken to consolidate most of the department's offices, then scattered around more than 20 locations. in the mid‑1960s construction on the "New Labor Building" began and finished in 1975. In 1980 it was named in honor of Frances Perkins.

President Lyndon Johnson asked Congress to consider the idea of reuniting Commerce and Labor. He argued that the two departments had similar goals and that they would have more efficient channels of communication in a single department. However, Congress never acted on it.

In the 1970s, following the civil rights movement, the Labor Department under Secretary George P. Shultz made a concerted effort to promote racial diversity in unions.[8]

In 1978, the Department of Labor created the Philip Arnow Award, intended to recognize outstanding career employees such as the eponymous Philip Arnow.[9]

During 2010 a local of the American Federation of Government Employees stated their unhappiness that a longstanding flextime program reduced under the George W. Bush administration had not been restored under the Obama administration.[10] Department officials said the program was modern and fair and that it was part of ongoing contract negotiations with the local.[10] In August 2010, the Partnership for Public Service ranked the Department of Labor 23rd out of 31 large agencies in its annual "Best Places to Work in the Federal Government" list.[11] In December 2010, then-Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was named the Chair of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness,[12] of which Labor has been a member since its beginnings in 1987.

In July 2011, the department was rocked by the resignation of Ray Jefferson, Assistant Secretary for VETS, in a contracting scandal.[13][14][15]

In March 2013, the department began commemorating its centennial.[16]

In July 2013, Tom Perez was confirmed as Secretary of Labor. According to remarks by Perez at his swearing-in ceremony, "Boiled down to its essence, the Department of Labor is the department of opportunity."[17]

Freedom of Information Act processing performance

In the latest Center for Effective Government analysis of 15 federal agencies which receive the most Freedom of Information Act (United States) (FOIA) requests, published in 2015 (using 2012 and 2013 data, the most recent years available), the Labor Department earned a D by scoring 63 out of a possible 100 points, i.e. did not earn a satisfactory overall grade.[18]

Agencies, boards, offices, programs, library and corporation of the department

  • Office of Administrative Law Judges (OALJ)
  • Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs (OCIA)
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management (OASAM)
    • Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
  • Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy (OASP)
  • Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)
  • Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)
  • Office of Public Affairs (OPA)
  • Office of Public Liaison (OPL)
  • Office of the Solicitor (SOL)
  • Office of the Secretary (OSEC)


Related legislation

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Chapter 1: Start-up of the Department and World War I, 1913-1921". History of the Department of Labor. Retrieved February 4, 2013.
  2. ^ "FY 2014 Department of Labor Budget in Brief" (PDF). U.S. Department of Labor. U.S. federal government. 2014.
  3. ^ Bureau of Labor Statistics
  4. ^ Bls.gov
  5. ^ William Bauchop Wilson
  6. ^ Iga.ucdavis.edu
  7. ^ Bls.gov
  8. ^ Frum, David (2000). How We Got Here: The '70s. New York, New York: Basic Books. p. 243. ISBN 0-465-04195-7.
  9. ^ "PER 00-00-001 - ADM 2.1 - Employee Recognition Program | Occupational Safety and Health Administration". www.osha.gov. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  10. ^ a b Kamen, Al (2010-04-23). "AFGE pushes for flextime at Labor Department". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  11. ^ "Best Places to Work > Overall Index Scores". Partnership for Public Service. 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
  12. ^ About USICH | United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Usich.gov (1987-07-22). Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  13. ^ All.gov
  14. ^ "Raymond Jefferson leaves Labor Department after ethics finding". The Washington Post. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  15. ^ "McCaskill criticizes Labor Department contracting 'boondoggle' : News". Stltoday.com. 2011-07-28. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
  16. ^ United States Department of Labor. Dol.gov. Retrieved on 2013-08-12.
  17. ^ "Remarks By Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, Swearing-In Ceremony". United States Department of Labor. 2013. Retrieved 2014-08-08.
  18. ^ Making the Grade: Access to Information Scorecard 2015 March 2015, 80 pages, Center for Effective Government, retrieved 21 March 2016


  • Lombardi, John (1942). Labor's Voice in the Cabinet: A History of the Department of Labor from Its Origins to 1921. New York: Columbia University Press.

External links

Alan Krueger

Alan Bennett Krueger (September 17, 1960 – March 16, 2019) was an American economist who was the James Madison Professor of Political Economy at Princeton University and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy, nominated by President Barack Obama, from May 2009 to October 2010, when he returned to Princeton. He was nominated in 2011 by Obama as chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, and served in that office from November 2011 to August 2013. He was among the 50 highest ranked economists in the world according to Research Papers in Economics.

Bureau of International Labor Affairs

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) is an operating unit of the United States Department of Labor which manages the department's international responsibilities. According to its mission statement:

“The Bureau of International Labor Affairs leads the U.S. Department of Labor's efforts to ensure that workers around the world are treated fairly and are able to share in the benefits of the global economy. ILAB's mission is to improve global working conditions, raise living standards, protect workers' ability to exercise their rights, and address the workplace exploitation of children and other vulnerable populations. Our efforts help to ensure a fair playing field for American workers and contribute to stronger export markets for goods made in the United States.” ILAB promotes the economic security and stability of United States workers in international affairs and provides advice and statistics on policy decisions which have U.S. labor concerns. The Bureau also represents the United States at trade negotiations and at international bodies like the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It also provides technical assistance to foreign countries in the interest of benefiting the United States and additionally works with other government agencies to combat child labor and human trafficking abroad and in the United States.

The Bureau of International Labor Affairs is located in the Frances Perkins Building, Room S-2235, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20210. It is currently under the direction of Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs Martha Newton.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a unit of the United States Department of Labor. It is the principal fact-finding agency for the U.S. government in the broad field of labor economics and statistics and serves as a principal agency of the U.S. Federal Statistical System. The BLS is a governmental statistical agency that collects, processes, analyzes, and disseminates essential statistical data to the American public, the U.S. Congress, other Federal agencies, State and local governments, business, and labor representatives. The BLS also serves as a statistical resource to the United States Department of Labor, and conducts research into how much families need to earn to be able to enjoy a decent standard of living.The BLS data must satisfy a number of criteria, including relevance to current social and economic issues, timeliness in reflecting today's rapidly changing economic conditions, accuracy and consistently high statistical quality, impartiality in both subject matter and presentation, and accessibility to all. To avoid the appearance of partiality, the dates of major data releases are scheduled more than a year in advance, in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget.

Employment and Training Administration

The Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is part of the U.S. Department of Labor. Its mission is to provide training, employment, labor market information, and income maintenance services. ETA administers federal government job training and worker dislocation programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

Eula Bingham

Eula Bingham (born July 9, 1929) is an American scientist who is best known as an Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health during the Presidency of Jimmy Carter.

Frances Perkins Building

The Frances Perkins Building is the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the United States Department of Labor. It is located at 200 Constitution Avenue NW and runs alongside Interstate 395. The structure is named after Frances Perkins, the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933–1945 and the first female cabinet secretary in U.S. history.

Karen Nussbaum

Karen Nussbaum (born April 25, 1950) is an American labor leader and currently the executive director of Working America.

Laura Fortman

Laura A. Fortman (born 1954) is an American government employee, non-profit executive, and women's rights activist. Since 2013 she has served as deputy administrator of the Wage and Hour Division at the United States Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. Previously she was commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor, and executive director of the Frances Perkins Center, the Maine Women's Lobby, and the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center of Augusta. She was inducted into the Maine Women's Hall of Fame in 2007.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) () is an agency of the United States Department of Labor which administers the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act) to enforce compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents, to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents, to minimize health hazards, and to promote improved safety and health conditions in the nation's mines. MSHA carries out the mandates of the Mine Act at all mining and mineral processing operations in the United States, regardless of size, number of employees, commodity mined, or method of extraction. David Zatezalo is Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and the head of MSHA.

MSHA is organized into several divisions. The Coal Mine Safety and Health division is divided into 12 districts covering coal mining in different portions of the United States. The Metal-Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health division covers six regions of the United States.

Mining in the United States

Mining in the United States has been active since colonial times, but became a major industry in the 19th century with a number of new mineral discoveries causing a series of mining "rushes." In 2015, the value of coal, metals, and industrial minerals mined in the United States was US $109.6 billion. 158,000 workers were directly employed by the mining industry.

Morgan Reynolds

Morgan O. Reynolds is the former director of the Criminal Justice Center at the National Center for Policy Analysis headquartered in Dallas, Tex. He served as chief economist for the United States Department of Labor in 2001–2002, during George W. Bush's first term, and later claimed that 9/11 was an inside job (he is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth).

Occupational Outlook Handbook

The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a publication of the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics that includes information about the nature of work, working conditions, training and education, earnings and job outlook for hundreds of different occupations in the United States. It is released biennially with a companion publication, the Career Guide to Industries and is available free of charge from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' website. The 2012–13 edition was released in November 2012 and the 2014–15 edition in March 2014.

Because it is a work by the United States federal government, the Handbook is not under copyright and is reproduced in various forms by other publishers, often with additional information or features.The first edition was published in 1948.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) () is an agency of the United States Department of Labor. Congress established the agency under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act), which President Richard M. Nixon signed into law on December 29, 1970. OSHA's mission is to "assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education and assistance". The agency is also charged with enforcing a variety of whistleblower statutes and regulations. OSHA is currently headed by Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor Loren Sweatt. OSHA's workplace safety inspections have been shown to reduce injury rates and injury costs without adverse effects to employment, sales, credit ratings, or firm survival.

Office of Labor-Management Standards

The Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) of the U.S. Department of Labor administers and enforces most provisions of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The LMRDA was enacted primarily to ensure basic standards of democracy and fiscal responsibility in labor organizations which represent employees in private industry. Unions representing U.S. Postal Service employees became subject to the LMRDA with the passage of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970.OLMS also enforces standards on officers of unions representing U.S. government workers defined by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978.

Office of Public Engagement

The Office of Public Engagement (OPE) at the United States Department of Labor is an office under the direction of the Secretary of Labor. It works to advance the secretary's mission by making the department inclusive, transparent, accountable and responsible. The office coordinates the outreach efforts of individual agencies within the department to ensure a broad cross-section of stakeholder participation in all facets of the department's efforts. The office works with the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to form the secretary's outreach team.

Office of Workers' Compensation Programs

The Office of Workers' Compensation Programs administers four major disability compensation programs which provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to certain workers or their dependents who experience work-related injury or occupational disease.

United States Department of Commerce and Labor

The United States Department of Commerce and Labor was a short-lived Cabinet department of the United States government, which was concerned with controlling the excesses of big business.

It was created on February 14, 1903, during the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. Investigations were the province of its Bureau of Corporations. The department was renamed the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, and its bureaus and agencies specializing in labor were transferred to the new Department of Labor. In 1915, the Bureau of Corporations was spun off as an independent agency, the Federal Trade Commission

The United States Secretary of Commerce and Labor was the head of the department. The secretary was a member of the President's Cabinet. Corresponding with the division of the department in 1913, the Secretary of Commerce and Labor's position was divided into separate positions of United States Secretary of Commerce and United States Secretary of Labor.

In 2011, in response to federal budget-cutting efforts, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), sponsored S. 1116, a proposal to re-combine two departments as the "Department of Commerce and the Workforce". To date no action on this proposal has been taken beyond referral to committee.

United States Women's Bureau

The United States Women's Bureau (WB) is an agency of the United States government within the United States Department of Labor. The Women's Bureau works to create parity for women in the labor force by conducting research and policy analysis, to inform and promote policy change, and to increase public awareness and education.

The Director is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. He or she is supported by a staff in the national office as well as ten regional offices.

Veterans' Employment and Training Service

The United States Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment and Training (OASVET) was established by Secretary's Order No. 5-81 in December 1981.The assistant secretary position was created by P.L. 96-466 in October 1980, to replace the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment position created by P.L. 94-502 in October 1976. The bipartisan Congressional intent was to establish leadership of the department's programs for services to veterans at the policy-making level, and thereby help to ensure Congressional mandates for an effective:

Job and job training counseling service program,

Employment placement service program, and

Job training placement service program for eligible veterans (carried out by the United States Department of Labor).

Agencies under the United States Department of Labor
Deputy Secretary of Labor

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