U.S. President Joe Biden has proposed key investments to strengthen the unemployment insurance system, expand pathways to good-paying jobs, safeguard workers’ health through increases in the MSHA and OSHA budgets and create greater financial security for workers.
The Biden-Harris administration submitted the president’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022 to Congress.
“The president’s budget renews the Department of Labor’s commitment to help America’s workers, particularly those from disadvantaged communities, find pathways to high-quality, good-paying jobs,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The president’s initiatives also restore the department’s capacity to protect the health, safety, rights and financial security of all workers. Additionally, the American Jobs Plan’s investments further enhance the department’s ability to meet its mission by creating pathways to millions of high-quality jobs and rebuilding our country’s infrastructure.”
The budget includes the two historic plans the president has already put forward – the American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan – and reinvests in education, research, public health and more.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Mine Safety and Health Administration and other worker protection agencies have lost 14 percent of their staffs during the past four years. According to the Biden administration, this has limited their ability to perform inspections and conduct investigations to protect the health, safety, rights and financial security of workers in America.
The proposed budget reverses this trend with increases totaling nearly $300 million in the worker protection agencies, including $73 million for the OSHA budget, $67 million for the MSHA budget, $35 million for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and $37 million for the Employee Benefits Security Administration. The American Jobs Plan further bolsters the department’s worker protection agencies with an additional investment of $7.5 billion over 10 years. These increases will rebuild enforcement capacity, expand whistleblower protection programs and increase outreach and compliance assistance.
At the Department of Labor, the proposed budget would:
- Expand registered apprenticeship opportunities. The budget proposes $285 million for Registered Apprenticeships, an increase of $100 million from the 2021 enacted level, to expand access and diversify the industry sectors involved. The American Jobs Plan will build on this investment with $10 billion over 10 years to create one to two million new registered apprenticeship slots and to strengthen the pipeline for more women and people of color to access these opportunities.
- Help workers find pathways to good-paying jobs. The budget proposes an increase of $203 million to Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act state grants to make employment services and training available to more dislocated workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged youth who have been hurt by the economic fallout from the pandemic. The budget also includes increased investments in programs that serve disadvantaged workers and job seekers, including justice-involved individuals, at-risk youth and American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian individuals. The American Jobs Plan will further ensure workers are able to acquire the skills they need to succeed with investments in proven workforce development models, such as sector-based training programs, comprehensive supports for dislocated workers, and expanded access to intensive, staff-assisted career services.
- Make improvements to the unemployment insurance system. The budget takes initial steps to address deficiencies in the unemployment insurance (UI) system by providing the first comprehensive update in decades to the formula that funds states’ UI administration, helping to better equip states to handle higher volumes of claims and to be better prepared for future crises. It also requests $100 million to support the development and deployment of IT solutions in states to ensure timely and equitable delivery of UI benefits.
- Protect workers’ paychecks. The budget proposes an increase of more than $30 million for the Wage and Hour Division. This increase will allow the division to aggressively combat worker misclassification, a practice that robs workers of their rightful wages, benefits and protections, and fully enforce the other areas under its purview, including prevailing wages and family and medical leave.