The Department of Labor (DOL) is responsible for U.S. Government participation in the OECD's Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) and its subsidiary bodies. These include three Working Parties — employment, migration and social policy — and a variety of ad hoc expert groups. ELSAC, the only OECD committee that emphasizes the economic and social needs of workers, serves as a valuable forum for exchanging and furthering ideas on how best to address employment and social problems faced by OECD member states. Department of Labor officials represent the U.S. Government at meetings of the Directing Committee of the Local Economic and Employment Development Program and serve as advisors to U.S. Government delegates participating in other OECD Committee meetings such as the Trade Committee.

December 3, 2013: Secretary of Labor's meeting with OECD Secretary — General Gurria

On December 3, 2013, Secretary Perez met with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. They discussed the recent international assessments of young people and adults, noting areas in which U.S. performance might be improved. They agreed that providing workers and young people with the skills and competencies required by employers could lead to a significant strengthening of the U.S. economy. Other issues discussed were the importance of long-term investment in skills, how to improve the effectiveness of public workforce systems, and future plans for the 2014 G20 Labor and Employment track.

October 24-25, 2013: ELSAC meeting — Paris, France

The OECD's Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) discussed (1) the preliminary results of the OECD's displaced worker study, which is examining the effectiveness of country programs that help displaced workers find new jobs; (2) follow-up to the OECD's recent report, A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies; and (3) the results of the OECD's survey of adult competencies (Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies or PIAAC). The Committee also discussed the status of the road map to accession to the OECD for Colombia and Latvia. The road map for each country will include a review of labor issues.

April 18 -19, 2013: ELSAC meeting — Paris, France

The OECD's Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee (ELSAC) reviewed a draft Recommendation on Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship. This Recommendation is based on analytical work carried out under the 2010 OECD Gender Initiative. Other issues examined by the ELSAC delegates included the social impact of the recent recession; assessing, anticipating, and responding to the skill needs; and labor reform in Mexico.

March 13, 2013: Seminar on Adult Assessment in OECD Countries

The National Center for Education Statistics and the Department of Labor hosted a meeting of labor market experts to discuss how researchers and policy makers can best utilize the OECD adult assessment data that will become available in October 2013. This data is being collected through the OECD’s Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).  PIAAC  assesses literacy, numeracy, and problem solving skills of adults between the age of 16 and 65 in 24 countries.  It also collects background information on workforce experiences and how workers acquire their skills.

February 20, 2013: U.S. — OECD Seminar on Local Job Creation

Experts from the OECD ’s Local Economic and Employment Development Program met with U.S. government experts to discuss how local employment and training agencies in the United States can contribute to the creation of high-skilled jobs . The report focuses on local job creation and workforce development programs in California and Michigan.  This is part of a larger OECD project that is examining OECD country efforts to better align employment and training policies with local economic development programs.

December 17, 2012: Forum on gender — Paris, France

The OECD held a forum entitled "Closing the Gender Gap: Act Now" on December 17, 2012 in Paris. This forum consisted of three panels: (1) the contribution of gender equality to economic growth; (2) gender equality from a business perspective; and (3) ways to address gender stereotypes.

October 25 - 26, 2012: ELSAC meeting — Paris, France

ELSAC discussed a draft of the OECD Recommendation on Gender, which is based on the findings of an OECD study on "Gender Equality in Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship." This report offers policy advice to governments as to how they can better promote gender equality. The U.S. government has been a strong supporter of the OECD's work under the Gender Initiative program.

April 12 - 13, 2012: 120th Session of the OECD's Employment, Labor and Social Affairs Committee on April 12-13 — Paris, France

The Committee discussed a number of issues including the following draft reports: OECD's skills strategy; gender equality in education, employment and entrepreneurship; and re-employment policies in Australia. A summary of these reports are available on the OECD's website at

December 20, 2011: "Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work" Webinar

The OECD hosted a web-based seminar on its recent report, "Sick on the Job? Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work," on December 20. Chrispoher Prinz, who directed this OECD effort, presented the report's recommendations.

December 14, 2011: "Divided We Stand: Tackling growth and inequality now," — Washington, DC

The OECD, in partnership with its Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) and Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), hosted an event to discuss the impact of inequality on policymaking, the drivers of inequality and ways to reduce inequality. John Martin, Director for Employment, Labor and Social Affairs, presented the OECD's research findings. Richard Trumka, President, AFL-CIO and Charles Heeter, Chairman of the OECD's Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) commented on Mr Martin's presentation.

December 12-13, 2011: "Reconciling Mental Ill Health and Employment," — Paris, France

The OECD presented its research in this area and participants discussed the possible impact of the OECD's findings on policy formulation. The following countries are participating in this project: United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

November 14-15, 2011: "Labor Activation in Times of High Unemployment" — Paris, France

The OECD and the University of Maryland will convene an international conference on "Labor Activation in Times of High Unemployment" November 14 — 15 in Paris. Sessions will address labor market policy reform, unemployment insurance policies in OECD countries, outsourcing, and public/private partnerships. The objective of the conference is to examine whether changes are needed in various labor market policies and strategies to get the unemployed back to work, and what lessons could be learned from various programs implemented in several OECD countries.

October 13-14, 2011: ELSAC meeting — Paris, France

ELSAC discussed the following OECD projects:

  • Displaced worker project — This project will identify the key policy responses to job displacement so as to find better ways to help displaced workers find jobs. To date, nine OECD countries, including the United States, have agreed to participate in this project, which will include the preparation of a cross-country analytical report to be followed by country-specific policy studies.
  • Mental health and work project — This project will examine why so many young people take a leave of absence from work or apply for a disability benefits on the grounds of mental illness; and how can people with mental illness be better integrated into the labor market.
  • Green jobs project — The OECD project on the Jobs Potential of the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy aims to assess the implications of green growth policies for labor markets and how labor market and skill development policies can support a rapid, efficient and fair transition.
  • The Department of Labor is providing financial support for the displaced worker project and the mental health and work project.

September 2011: OECD released its latest edition of the Employment Outlook

June 27-28, 2011: Meeting of Experts on the OECD's Displaced Worker Study — Paris, France

The OECD held a meeting of experts to discuss plans for the OECD's Displaced Worker Study. The main purpose of this new activity is to investigate the policy challenges posed by job displacement based on: i) an empirical analysis of its consequences for individual workers; and ii) the identification of promising policy initiatives to help displaced workers back into jobs. The project will include a study of displaced workers in the United Sates and other selected OECD countries. DOL's Chief Evaluation Officer represented the United States at this meeting.

On October 8, 2013, the OECD released the results of its adult assessment survey – Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is an international assessment administered in 2011-2012 in 23 countries. It measured adult (16- to 65-olds) competencies in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in technology-rich environments. In addition, PIAAC collected background information on employment, education, training history, skills used at work, and demographics. The National Center for Education Statistic (NCES) is conducting a follow-up PIAAC survey in 2013 and 2014 focusing on the unemployed, young adults, older adults, and incarcerated adults. For additional information, please visit the NCES PIAAC website and the OECD's PIAAC website.

The OECD's recent report, Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives – A Strategic Approach to Skills Policies, provides a strategic framework to help countries to develop skills needed in the labor market, to assist young people to transition from school to work, to stimulate the creation of more high-skilled and high value-added jobs, and to exploit linkages across policy fields including education, science and technology, employment, and economic development.

On December 13, 2011, the OECD released its report on Mental Health and Work. The report concludes that the majority of employed people with common mental disorders are not receiving treatment nor any support in the workplace. This increases the probability of job loss and labor market exclusion. The OECD calls for increased focus on employed people with mental disorders and for more emphasis on preventative rather than reactive strategies to address the challenge of mental ill-health and work

On December 5, 2011, the OECD released a report entitled Divided We Stand: Why Inequality Keeps Rising. The study finds that the United States has the fourth-highest inequality level in the OECD, after Chile, Mexico and Turkey, and that inequality among working-age people has risen steadily since 1980. The report notes that the richest 1% of Americans have an average after-tax income of $1.3 million compared to $17,700 for the poorest 20% of U.S. citizens. During that same time period, the top marginal income tax rate dropped from 70% in 1981 to 35% in 2010. The OECD suggests a number of policies to address growing U.S. inequality: (1) create more and better jobs; (2) invest in education and training programs; (3) reform tax and benefit policies; (4)re-examine the redistributive role of taxation; and (5) provide public services such as education, health, and family care to all.

The OECD’s report, Putting in Place Jobs that Last, is a practical guide to rebuilding quality employment at the local level in the aftermath of the recent recession. It examines the responses by local governments in the following areas: job matching services, investments in education and training, job creation programs, efforts to increase productivity, and building local capabilities.


Mel Brodsky
(202) 693-4854