WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today released the president's fiscal year 2016 budget for the Department of Labor, which supports the president's plan to strengthen the middle class and help America's hard-working families reap the benefits of an improved economy.
"In his State of the Union address, President Obama said his budget would work to restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American. This department's budget expands our investments on behalf of working families; it reinforces our commitment to job training and apprenticeship, fair and equal pay, paid leave, safe workplaces and secure retirements," said Secretary Perez.
The budget provides $13.2 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Labor. This funding level, coupled with new targeted mandatory investments, supports working families and helps them reach their full potential in our growing economy. The budget also makes investments to bolster the enforcement of critical wage and hour, whistleblower, retirement security and worker safety laws. The budget also makes improvements in DOL's programs and infrastructure to ensure they are positioned to meet the needs of the modern workforce and economy.
The budget supports working families by including $2 billion for a Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to assist as many as five states that wish to launch paid leave programs, following the example of California, New Jersey and Rhode Island. States that participate in the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative would be eligible to receive funds for the initial set up and half of benefits for three years. The budget also includes a $35 million State Paid Leave Fund to provide technical assistance and support to states that are still building the infrastructure they need to launch paid leave programs in the future.
Building on the bipartisan Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, the budget makes investments that connect workers with jobs, prepare workers with the skills employers need, and expand proven models. For those who have lost their jobs, the budget includes an additional $500 million for in-person employment services to help them find a good job or the training or services to prepare for one. This investment would reach one-third of unemployment insurance beneficiaries who are most likely to run out of benefits before getting reemployed, all recently-separated veterans who receive unemployment benefits, and other displaced workers who come into the American Job Center network for help getting back to work and onto a new career path.
For workers who need job training to get back on their feet, the budget would double the number of workers receiving training through the workforce development system and focus on industries that are expected to experience significant growth in the coming decades, such as health care, energy and advanced manufacturing.
The budget also looks to replicate the successful "learn-and-earn" approaches of our European colleagues, investing more than $2 billion to achieve the goal of doubling the number of Registered Apprenticeships across the country over the next five years. Apprenticeship is a cost-effective pathway into the middle class. According to the department's data, those who complete registered apprenticeship programs earn median wages over $50,000 and more than 90 percent are employed after completion.
To help improve the quality of training programs and speed the development of credentials that have real labor market value, the budget provides $500 million for competitive Industry Credentialing and Career Pathways Grants. The funding includes $300 million specifically targeted at information technology jobs, to create employer-validated credentials where they do not exist, to drive additional employer uptake of existing credentials, and to develop curriculum and assessments that help individuals earn credentials. The budget also provides funding for states to remove barriers to employment and entrepreneurship. A $15 million grant fund would help a consortia of states identify, explore, and address areas where licensing requirements create barriers to labor market entry or labor mobility.
Building on the success of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program, the budget continues the work of forming crucial partnerships between community colleges and other training programs and employers by including $200 million for an American Technical Training Fund at the Department of Education. The funding will support the development of job-driven technical training focused on in-demand fields such as energy, manufacturing, health care and information technology. The fund would be jointly administered with the Department of Labor to help ensure that projects are well-integrated into the workforce system.
The budget also provides $3 billion to meet the needs of disconnected youth through the Connecting with Opportunity Initiative. The initiative includes $1.5 billion in formula grants for localities to expand summer and year-round job opportunities, as well as $1.5 billion to create educational and workforce pathways for disconnected youth. This program will support disconnected youth in earning high school diplomas, improving their educational attainment, and increasing long-term job prospects.
The budget includes nearly $1.9 billion for the department's worker protection agencies, putting them on sound footing to meet their responsibilities to defend the health, safety, wages, working conditions, and retirement security of American workers. The budget includes:
- $207 million for the Employee Benefits Security Administration to provide benefit security to the public and increase their confidence that their retirement, health and other benefits will be available when needed. The budget includes proposals that would make saving easier for millions of Americans currently without employer-based retirement plans.
- $114 million for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs to enforce equal employment opportunity with federal contractors.
- $277 million for the Wage and Hour Division to ensure workers receive appropriate wages and overtime pay, as well as the right to take job-protected leave for family and medical leave purposes.
- $592 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to foster employer compliance with safety and health regulations and inspect hazardous workplaces, and strengthen its protection of whistleblowers against retaliation for reporting unsafe and unscrupulous practices.
- $395 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration to help protect workers in one of our nation's most dangerous industries.
For more information on the president's fiscal year 2016 budget for the Department of Labor, visit http://www.dol.gov/dol/budget/.