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Celebrating 100 years of the U.S. Department of Labor


The organic act establishing the Department of Labor was signed on March 4, 1913, by a reluctant President William Howard Taft, the defeated and departing incumbent, just hours before Woodrow Wilson took office. A Federal Department of Labor was the direct product of a half-century campaign by organized labor for a "Voice in the Cabinet," and an indirect product of the Progressive Movement. In the words of the organic act, the Department's purpose is "to foster, promote and develop the welfare of working people, to improve their working conditions, and to enhance their opportunities for profitable employment."


The U.S. Department of Labor continues to undertake a broad range of initiatives to advance its mission. A diverse group of agencies with functions designed to implement the provisions of dozens of employment laws combine urgent enforcement or employment assistance activities with long-term planning and policy development to support working families and respond to the needs of our nation's communities.


With our eyes fixed on tomorrow, the Labor Department continues to seek out new ways to meet the challenges of a new era and inspire the next century of progress for the American workforce. As we recognize 100 years of achievement, we also seek opportunities for reinvention and renewal, becoming a truly NEXT-centric organization.

Learn More about the Department

In observance of our centennial, the Department produced a centennial video, an interactive timeline, a series of historical posters, and collection a of historical vignettes in our DOL newsletter— all designed to educate, inform and inspire the public about our rich history. Please click on the links above for more information.