Downsizing the Department of Labor

June 10, 2011

The Department of Labor has been added to Cato’s Downsizing Government website. Proposed spending cuts are $143 billion.

The following essays examine the department’s activities:

  • Failures of Unemployment Insurance. The UI system is costly to taxpayers and creates numerous economic distortions. Federal involvement should be ended and the states left free to design their own systems.
  • Employment and Training Programs. Federal programs for unemployed workers have never worked very well, are relatively little used, and are unneeded in today’s economy because private markets provide many alternatives.
  • Reforming Labor Union Laws. Federal union laws that mandate exclusive representation, union security, and prevailing wages are costly to the economy and restrict individual freedom. They should be repealed.
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance. This program provides benefits for certain workers put out of their jobs by foreign trade, but it has no sound basis in economics.

There’s a timeline that details key events in the Department of Labor’s growth, a reading room for suggested background studies, and supporting charts and figures.


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