Budget Requests $545M for Workforce Data

by Rachel Zinn
February 4, 2016

The 2017 President's Budget, scheduled for release on Feb. 9, includes $545 million for upgrading workforce data that can help improve training programs and match unemployed workers with job openings.

The White House today released a fact sheet about these data initiatives, which are part of nearly $6 billion in new funding proposals designed to improve employment prospects for people, especially young workers seeking their first job.

White House officials also spoke at today's Workforce Data Quality Initiative grantee conference in Arlington, VA, during a session where WDQC staff attended and assisted with facilitating discussion.

There are four notable data items in the Budget:

  • $500 million for a new Workforce Data Science and Innovation Fund. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would develop a team of experts to work in states on using technology and data analytics to improve training programs and consumer choice. And similar to the Administration's Open Health Data Initiative, DOL would partner with the Department of Commerce to create new open source data on jobs and skills. This data would be the foundation for new products to help match workers with jobs. 
  • $40 million for Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants. This program currently provides $6 million per year for grants to support state longitudinal data systems that incorporate and link to workforce data like wage records and job training participant information. The additional funding would assist states in developing information on program outcomes for students and workers choosing between different training options.
  • $2.5 million to improve data on occupations and skills provided by DOL's Occupational Information Network (O*Net). Employers use this data in designing job descriptions, and it helps workforce development professionals counsel people on transferrable skills and beneficial training.
  • $2.5 million to develop a tool that allows jobseekers to view customer satisfaction ratings for American Job Centers, and enables the centers to more easily report on customer service outcomes.

The Budget is an important statement of the Administration's priorities, though final funding decisions depend on Congress. It is unlikely that Congress would fund a large data initiative, but funding for Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants crept up by $2 million this year, so some increases are possible.

WDQC appreciates the new proposals, which acknowledge that strong workforce data must be a key part of policy solutions that strive to help workers of all ages and backgrounds succeed.