Thursday, March 9, 2023
Proposed investments in protecting workers, expanding Registered Apprenticeships, advancing equity, modernizing unemployment insurance systems
WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris administration today released President Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2024. The budget details a blueprint to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out, lower costs for families, protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security, and reduce the deficit by ensuring the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share – all while ensuring no one making less than $400,000 per year pays more in taxes.
“President Biden’s 2024 budget request of $15.1 billion in discretionary resources for the Department of Labor allows us to fulfill our commitment to advance equity in all aspects of our work, including enforcing lifesaving safety and health laws, advancing Registered Apprenticeships and sector-based training, and securing retirements for millions of workers and families,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The proposed budget delivers on the promise to make sure people in all communities have access to good jobs, and that all workers in America can count on the Department of Labor to be there for them morning, noon and night.”
The budget makes critical, targeted investments in the American people that will promote greater prosperity and economic growth for decades to come. At the Department of Labor, the budget:
- Empowers and protects workers: To ensure employers treat workers with dignity and respect, the budget invests $2.3 billion – an increase of $430 million over the 2023 enacted level – in the department’s worker protection agencies. The budget will enable the department to promote fair, safe and healthful workplaces for all, especially those in high-risk and underserved communities, combat exploitative child labor, and protect the benefits and financial security of all workers. The budget will also enable the department to promote equity through enhanced enforcement efforts and targeted outreach and education for underserved communities, ensuring fair treatment for millions of workers by restoring resources to oversee and enforce the equal employment obligations of federal contractors, including protections against discrimination based on race, gender, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Expands pathways to good jobs: The budget invests in effective, evidence-based training models to ensure all workers have the skills they need to obtain high-quality jobs. The budget provides $200 million to launch the “Sectoral Employment through Career Training for Occupational Readiness” program, which will scale evidence-based sector partnerships to empower employers in growing industries to design and implement high-quality training, ensuring they have their workforce needs met and that underserved workers have access to high-quality jobs. In addition, the budget requests $335 million to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities while increasing the number of apprentices from historically underrepresented groups. The budget also invests $100 million in community colleges to build their capacity to work with both the public workforce development system and employers to deliver high-quality training for in-demand jobs. The budget invests in strategic planning, partnership development and training and reemployment activities for displaced workers, including resources to address changes in the energy economy.
- Improves access and equity in the unemployment insurance system: The budget invests $3.7 billion – an increase of $522 million above the 2023 enacted level – to modernize, protect and strengthen this critical program. This includes several investments aimed at tackling fraud in the UI program. The budget includes a $150 million investment to support more effective identity verification for unemployment insurance applicants and help states develop and test fraud-prevention tools and strategies. The budget also provides additional resources to allow the Office of Inspector General to increase its investigations into criminal fraud rings who target the UI program. In addition, the budget proposes a comprehensive legislative package of program integrity proposals designed to provide states with new tools and resources to combat UI fraud and improper payments while ensuring equity and accessibility for all claimants.
- Expands employment protections for military spouses: Military families make significant sacrifices on behalf of the nation, including overcoming the many challenges that spouses of active-duty service and reserve members experience in finding and retaining good jobs. Spouses of military servicemembers often face discrimination by current and prospective employers due to the frequent and unpredictable nature of deployment and relocations. The budget addresses these challenges by expanding anti-discrimination and reemployment protections to spouses of all active-duty and reserve members, which would allow them to more easily find and keep good jobs.
- Safeguards equal opportunity and nondiscrimination: The budget makes key investments to provide additional support to the Civil Rights Center to expand its enforcement work; the Women’s Bureau to support its efforts to remedy the negative impact of the pandemic on women and help marginalized women understand and access their employment rights; the Secretary’s policy office to support the department’s agencies in removing barriers for members of underserved communities in accessing its programs; invests resources in the Good Jobs Initiative to further embed equity in all departmental programs and promote good jobs principles; and the Office of Disability Employment Policy to fund Equitable Transition Model programs that will develop scalable strategies to enable low-income youth with disabilities to transition to employment.
- Strengthens mental health parity protections: The budget requires all health plans to cover mental health and substance use disorder benefits, strengthens the network of behavioral health providers and improves the department’s ability to enforce the law. Additionally, the budget includes $275 million over 10 years to increase the department’s capacity to ensure that large group market health plans and issuers comply with mental health and substance use disorder requirements, and to take action against plans and issuers that do not comply.
Building on the President’s strong record of fiscal responsibility, the budget more than fully pays for its investments—reducing deficits by nearly $3 trillion over the next decade by asking the wealthy and big corporations to pay their fair share.