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The United States Department of Labor

an executive department of the United States government which administers and enforces laws that seek to promote the welfare of U.S. wage earners, to improve their working conditions, and to advance their opportunities for employment

logo of the U.S. Department of Labor


The Department of Labor administers federal laws on child labor, equal pay, minimum wages, overtime, and public contracts. It develops standards and policies for promoting the welfare of workers. It carries out federal laws on workers' compensation programs, and handles appeals from federal workers regarding compensation. It develops apprenticeship standards for the training of skilled workers. It also administers laws dealing with the election of labor union officers and with union financial reports, and regulates private pension and welfare plans.

The Department of Labor also serves as the government's chief fact-finding agency in loabor economics. It collects, analyzes, and publishes information on employment and unemployment, industrial relations, occupational safety and health, price trends, productivity and technology, wages, family budgets, and economic trends and labor conditions. It protects the safety and health of workers by enforcing standards it develops. It also develops standards in the areas of labor laws and administration, and administers the public employment service and unemployment insurance programs.


The Department of Labor is headed by the Secretary of Labor, who is appointed by the President upon consent of the Senate. The Secretary establishes policies for the department and is the President's chief adviser on labor matters. The department itself consists of various administrations and bureaus, as listed below:

Employment and Training Administration
Women's Bureau
Veterans' Employment and Training Service
Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Employment Standards Administration
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Bureau of Labor Statistics


On June 27, 1884, Congress established a Bureau of Labor in the Department of the Interior. In 1888, Congress gave the bureau independent status as the Department of Labor, but is head did not serve in the President's Cabinet. On February 14, 1903, Congress established the new Department of Commerce and Labor, and made the Department of Labor a bureau in it. On March 4, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson signed a law creating an independent Department of Labor. The department was the first Cabinet office to have a woman as its head, when Frances Perkins became Secretary of Labor in 1933.

Secretaries of Labor
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Secretary Term of Office President(s)
William B. Wilson 1913-1921 Wilson
James J. Davis 1921-1930 Harding, Coolidge, Hoover
William N. Doak 1930-1933 Hoover
Frances Perkins 1933-1945 Roosevelt
Lewis B. Schwellenbach 1945-1948 Truman
Maurice J. Tobin 1948-1953 Truman
Martin P. Durkin 1953 Eisenhower
James P. Mitchell 1953-1961 Eisenhower
Arthur J. Goldberg 1961-1962 Kennedy
W. Willard Wirtz 1962-1969 Kennedy, Johnson
George P. Shultz 1969-1970 Nixon
James D. Hodgson 1970-1973 Nixon
Peter J. Brennan 1973-1975 Nixon, Ford
John T. Dunlop 1975-1976 Ford
W.J. Usery, Jr. 1976-1977 Ford
Ray Marshall 1977-1981 Carter
Raymond J. Donovan 1981-1985 Reagan
William E. Brock 1985-1987 Reagan
Ann Dore McLaughlin 1987-1989 Reagan
Elizabeth Hanford Dole 1989-1990 Bush
Lynn Morley Martin 1991-1993 Bush
Robert B. Reich 1993-1997 Clinton
Alexis M. Herman 1997-2001 Clinton
Elaine L. Chao 2001-2009 Bush
Hilda L. Solis 2009-2013 Obama
Thomas Perez 2013-2017 Obama
R. Alexander Acosta 2017- Trump

The official website of the U.S. Department of Labor is

President Woodrow Wilson
Frances Perkins

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This page was last updated on March 03, 2018.