Thursday, February 11, 2010

US Department of Labor budget request for fiscal year 2011

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today, through a national online discussion with stakeholder groups, the general public and the news media, outlined the president's fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget request for the U.S. Department of Labor, which is built around the vision of "good jobs for everyone." The budget launches innovative ways to prepare workers for 21st century jobs, and makes new investments in programs that protect workers' rights, safety and health in the new economy. It reaches out to diverse audiences to ensure that all people from all communities are included in the jobs of the future.
"The FY 2011 budget will help to make the vision of good jobs for everyone a reality for America's workers. This budget invests in innovation and reform that will play a critically important role in building long-term economic security for workers," said Secretary Solis. "At the same time, the budget reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility, investing in what works and carefully evaluating our programs to make sure that we obtain results that produce good jobs."

Secretary Solis defines "good jobs" as those that:

Can support a family by increasing incomes.

Offer fair compensation.

Narrow the wage gap.

Allow for work-life flexibility.

Promote safe and healthy workplaces.

Give workers a voice.

Foster fair working conditions in the global marketplace.

Are sustainable and innovative, such as green jobs, providing opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge for the jobs of the future.

Help restore the middle class.

In total, the FY 2011 budget requests $117 billion, with the majority to be used for unemployment insurance benefits for displaced workers and federal workers' compensation. The department's discretionary request of $14.0 billion overall includes $1.7 billion for worker protection programs, a four percent increase over the prior year's budget.

Under this budget, the department expects to hire more than 350 new employees, including 177 investigators and other enforcement staff, many of whom will be bilingual to better communicate with employees in the changing workplace. The 2011 budget builds on the 2010 budget policy of returning worker protection programs to FY 2001 staffing levels, after years of decline. For example, the FY 2011 budget asks for $573 million for the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is $14 million more than that agency received in FY 2010. Also, the department's Wage and Hour Division will receive $244 million, an increase of almost $20 million from the prior year, including funding to hire 90 new investigators. With these increases, the Labor Department's worker protection agencies will be able to vigorously protect wages and working conditions of 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million workplaces.

When employees are misclassified as "independent contractors," they are deprived of benefits and protections to which they are legally entitled. For example, independent contractors do not receive overtime and are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. The FY 2011 budget includes an additional $25 million for a Misclassification Initiative to target misclassification with 100 additional enforcement personnel and competitive grants to boost states' incentives and capacity to address this problem. (This $25 million includes the nearly $20 million increase for the Wage and Hour Division discussed above.)

For employment and training programs, the budget provides $11.8 billion, including new investments in innovation. A Workforce Innovation Fund will be created by reserving $108 million from the Workforce Investment Act's Adult and Dislocated Worker streams. With these funds, the department will pursue "learn and earn" strategies such as apprenticeships and on-the-job training, promote collaborations among regions and industries, and support other innovations.

The budget also creates a $154 million Youth Innovation Fund, which will pilot innovative models for delivering summer and year-round work experiences and comprehensive services to disconnected youth. Another $120 million is requested for the YouthBuild program to expand capacity to 230 locations, enrolling nearly 7,500 youth in green construction projects that produce industry-recognized credentials.

Because too many families must make the painful choice between the care of their families and a paycheck they desperately need, the budget establishes a $50 million State Paid Leave Fund within the Labor Department that will provide competitive grants to help states that choose to launch paid-leave programs cover their start-up costs.

The FY 2011 budget also recognizes the department's responsibility to promote worker rights globally. The request includes an additional $22 million to help strengthen worker rights and protections in America's trading partner countries.

The budget requests $39 million for the Office of Disability Employment Policy to increase the workforce participation of people with disabilities through innovative partnerships that break down employment barriers and better serve people with disabilities in the workforce system.

For veterans, the budget provides $262 million for veterans programs, including an additional $5 million to allow the department to reach more homeless veterans, particularly women veterans, and a $1 million increase to expand access to employment workshops for spouses and families of service members transitioning to the civilian workforce.
The budget also provides $50 million for a department-wide evaluation. The additional funding will support demonstration projects coupled with rigorous evaluations to determine which programs and interventions work best, the results of which will inform the department's policy, management and resource allocation decisions.

For more information on the president's 2011 budget for the Department of Labor, visit