WASHINGTON, DC – The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the president’s priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending. The funding request invests in the core foundations of our country’s strength and advances key Department of Labor priorities. These include significant investments in protecting workers’ rights, health and safety, and wages; strengthening and improving access and equity within the federal-state unemployment compensation program; supporting training opportunities that provide pathways to the middle class, especially for diverse communities; and enforcing employment anti-discrimination laws to ensure federal contracting fulfills America’s promise to all Americans.
“This funding proposal is as bold as it is necessary in its scope and economic impact as we seek to boost workers and families out of the most challenging economic situation in generations. The proposal acknowledges and addresses the burden that communities of color and other traditionally underserved groups have borne throughout the pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “As a reflection of the people’s needs, this funding proposal recognizes the need for workers’ rights to be enforced, the need for expanded and diversified registered apprenticeship opportunities, the need for a stronger, more efficient unemployment insurance system and the overarching need for equity in all we do.”
The president’s FY22 discretionary request:
Empowers and protects American workers. To ensure employers treat workers with dignity and respect at work, the discretionary request invests $2.1 billion – an increase of $304 million over the 2021 enacted level – in the department’s worker protection agencies. Over the past four years, the department’s worker protection agencies lost approximately 14 percent of their staff, which limited the department’s ability to perform inspections and conduct investigations. The proposal would enable the department to conduct the enforcement and regulatory work needed to protect workers’ wages, health and safety, benefits and rights; and address the misclassification of workers as independent contractors.
Increases skill-building opportunities so workers can build a better future. To ensure future growth and prosperity, and ensure all workers – in all communities – have multiple pathways to high quality, good-paying jobs and access to the middle class, the discretionary request provides $3.7 billion – an additional $203 million over the 2021 enacted level – for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants. These grants will make employment services and training available to more dislocated workers, low-income adults and disadvantaged youth hurt by the pandemic’s economic fallout. The request seeks to develop pathways for diverse workers to access training and career opportunities by also investing in critical programs that serve disadvantaged groups including justice-involved individuals, at-risk youth and low-income veterans. The discretionary request also provides $285 million – a $100 million increase above the 2021 enacted level – to expand Registered Apprenticeship opportunities while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups, including people of color and women, and diversifying the industry sectors involved.
Improves access and equity in the unemployment insurance system. To address the inadequacies of states’ administration of their unemployment insurance systems, namely the significant delays and obstacles that came to light amid the pandemic and that disproportionately affect workers of color, the discretionary request makes investments to ensure states can better handle higher volumes of claims and be better prepared for future crises. The proposal fully funds and updates the formula for determining the amount states receive to administer UI, the first comprehensive update in decades, allowing states to serve claimants more quickly and effectively. The discretionary request also includes a $100 million investment to support the development of information technology solutions that states can deploy to ensure timely and equitable access to benefits.
Supports worker training for new careers in clean energy. To support the reskilling and reemploying of displaced workers in Appalachian communities, the discretionary request includes a $100 million investment for the department’s role in the new multi-agency POWER+ Initiative. This request will complement other targeted federal investments in POWER+ to assist workers and transform local economies in communities transitioning away from fossil fuel production. The discretionary request also provides $20 million for a new program, developed in collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will help combat climate change while preparing veterans for good-paying jobs by focusing on helping veterans shift to careers in clean energy.
These discretionary investments reflect only one element of the President’s broader agenda. In the coming months, the administration will release the President’s Budget, which will present a unified, comprehensive plan to address the overlapping crises we face in a fiscally and economically responsible way.
Read more about the President’s FY22 discretionary funding request.