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United States Department of Labor

Dept. of Labor
Established:March 4, 1913
Activated:March 5, 1913
Secretary:Elaine L. Chao
Deputy Secretary:D. Cameron Findlay
Budget:$70.7 billion (2003)
Employees:17,274 (2003)

The United States Department of Labor is a Cabinet department of the United States government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re-employment services, and some economic statistics. Many U.S. states also have such departments. The department is headed by the United States Secretary of Labor.

President William Howard Taft signed The Organic Act of the Department of Labor establishing the Department of Labor on March 4, 1913, his last day in office. He was reluctant to create the new department because he felt that the existing Cabinet departments needed reorganization before any new departments were created. However, realizing that his successor, Woodrow Wilson would likely create the department anyway, Taft signed the bill. In a memorandum written before signing the bill, Taft said, "I sign this bill with considerable hesitation, not because I dissent from the purpose of Congress to create a Department of Labor, but because I think that nine departments are enough for the proper administration of the government... I forebear, however, to veto this bill, because my motive in doing so would be misunderstood."

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."

Congress first established a Bureau of Labor in 1884 under the Department of the Interior. Later, the Bureau of Labor became an independent Department of Labor but lacked executive rank. It became a bureau again within the Department of Commerce and Labor, which was established February 14, 1903.

When President Taft signed the organic act, the United States Department of Commerce and Labor became the Department of Commerce and its respective labor bureaus and agencies were transferred to the newly established Department of Labor.

Table of contents
1 Operating Units
2 Related Legislation
3 External Links

Operating Units

Other organizational units within the Department:

Related Legislation

External Links