Violations Have Increased

At the Wage and Hour Division, safeguarding children at work has always been our top priority. Wage and Hour Division investigations found a significant increase in children being employed illegally and in 2023 we launched a National Strategic Enforcement Initiative on Child Labor to put additional emphasis on addressing this critical issue.


FY 2023 Child Labor Enforcement Data

In FY 2023, we concluded 955 investigations that found child labor violations, a 14% increase from the previous year. We found nearly 5,800 children employed in violation of the law, an 88% increase since 2019, and assessed more than $8 million in penalties, an 83% increase from the previous year.

955 Closed Cases with child labor violations in FY2023
5800 kids employed in violation in FY2023
$8 Million in assessed penalties in FY2023
800 open child labor cases right now
up 88% kids employed illegally since 2019
Up 83% in assessed penalties since FY 2022


Child Labor FY23 to FY22 Comparative

Compliance Actions with Child Labor Violations955835
Young Workers Employed in Violation5,7923,876
 Young Workers per Compliance Action65
Compliance Actions with Hazardous Occupation Violations196216
Young Workers Employed in Violation of Hazardous Occupations Orders502688
Child Labor Civil Money Penalties$8,039,728$4,386,205

For a 10-year history of Child Labor data, please see our charts at Child Labor | U.S. Department of Labor ( 




Recent Child Labor Cases

Several of our child labor cases in FY 2023 found severe violations and resulted in tragedy. These three investigations demonstrate the ongoing threat that illegal child labor poses to kids.

Meat Processing Machinery: We issued a $1.5 million penalty against Packers Sanitation Services for employing more than 100 children in hazardous occupations.

Sawmill Operations: Florence Hardwoods, a Wisconsin sawmill operator, illegally employed nine children to operate hazardous machinery, tragically resulting in one child's fatal work-related injury on July 1.


Other Enforcement Efforts

We ensure compliance with federal child labor laws by:


Additional Resources