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Bureau of International Labor Affairs
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International Labor & Employment Policy

While the U.S. economy continues to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, serious labor market problems remain: increased long-term unemployment, low employment rates for disadvantaged groups, growing skills mismatch, and increased income inequality.

Many other industrialized countries face similar labor market challenges. By documenting and sharing their experiences in designing policies and implementing programs to address these same problems, ILAB assists the Department of Labor in meeting two of its strategic objectives: (1) advancing employment opportunities for U.S. workers and (2) providing marketable skills and knowledge to increase workers' income and help them overcome barriers to the middle class.

Our Strategy

Through its participation in numerous international organizations, ILAB collects information on international best practices with regard to effective labor market policies. The emphasis is on identifying those international employment and training programs that work, those that do not, and the reasons for their success or failure.  Some of the topics that we investigate include:

  • Skills Training:  Examine successful country models, assess training strategies developed by international organizations, compare the level and distribution of skills of the American worker to workers in other countries and determine how these skills are acquired and used, review career guidance programs, and examine skills certification systems.
  • Long-term Unemployment:  Review efforts by a number of other industrialized countries that have sought to reduce long-term unemployment over recent decades including short-term measures to support labor demand and labor market policies including job search assistance and training to assist permanently displaced workers to find employment.
  • Disadvantaged Workers:  Research the range of policies that have been introduced to assist those groups hit hardest by the Great Recession -- youth, the low-skilled, and immigrants.  These include education and training programs, transition from school-to-work, and reducing labor demand barriers.
  •  Job Quality:  Examine efforts to promote the creation of good paying jobs through minimum wages, strong collective bargaining systems, integration of local economic development and skill training efforts, the development of career pathways, incentives to employers to introduce a high-skill, high-productivity workplace, and addressing the growing gaps between standard and nonstandard employment.    


  • Focus the research agendas of key international organizations on labor market issues of highest DOL priority.
  • Inform DOL policymaking by reviewing international efforts to address key labor market challenges and arranging seminars to discuss these efforts.

Further Resources