US Department of Labor final rule requires state merit staff to provide Employment Service programs, improves delivery for jobseekers, employers
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the publication of a final rule that revises federal regulations that govern the Employment Service, the nationwide system of public employment offices.
Enacted in 1933, the Wagner-Peyser Act established the nationwide system to support the nation’s labor markets by bringing together people seeking employment with employers in need of workers. The act requires states to create and maintain Employment Service programs to deliver services to jobseekers and employers, including job placement, counseling, training and labor market information.
The final rule reinstates the requirement that states use state merit staff to provide program services and makes several other changes to strengthen the program and enhance services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers. In this context, merit staff are state government employees hired based on merit principles who provide high-quality, consistent and politically neutral employment services.
“This final rule is a significant step forward in strengthening Employment Service programs and improving services for all jobseekers and employers, including migrant and seasonal farmworkers,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “State merit staffing is important in ensuring that Employment Service programs are delivered consistently and equitably across all states. The changes being made will improve services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers and make sure these workers have access to services they need to find and keep good jobs.”
In 2020, the department finalized a rule removing the requirement for states to use state merit staff. The department has since reconsidered its decision and concluded state merit staffing is important for ensuring consistent, high-quality delivery of Employment Service program services by states.
While the final rule requires states to use state merit staff to provide services, the department is allowing the states of Colorado, Massachusetts and Michigan to continue using the alternative staffing models in place before the 2020 Final Rule. At the same time, the department is requiring these states to take part in a rigorous evaluation to further examine various staffing models and methods of delivering labor exchange services.
The final rule also improves services for migrant and seasonal farmworkers by:
- Revising definitions of “significant migrant and seasonal farmworker one-stop centers” and “significant migrant and seasonal farmworker states.”
- Strengthening the status of state monitor advocates and clarifying their role in service programs.
- Removing the exclusion of full-time students from the definition of migrant farmworker, and non-migrant full-time students from the definition of seasonal farmworker.
- Strengthening state workforce agency recruitment requirements for hiring qualified candidates for migrant and seasonal farmworkers.
- Increasing migrant and seasonal farmworker data available to state workforce agencies, state monitor advocates, and the Employment and Training Administration to determine equity levels.
The final rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.