Workforce Data Funding Update

Christina Pena
January 31, 2018

With the recent lapse in appropriations partially shutting down the federal government and another Continuing Resolution until February 8, here is a brief update on funding for workforce data in the FY2018 budget process.  The biggest question mark for workforce data remains funding for the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Data Quality Initiative (WDQI).

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) bill provides $5 million for WDQI. Through WDQI, DOL oversees competitive grants for states to improve their workforce data systems.  Although the Senate figure is $1 million less than last year, both the President and House Appropriations Committee had eliminated all funding for the program for FY2018 - a stunning move given the Administration’s and Speaker’s stated support for evidence-based policymaking. WDQC has joined with the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce to support maintaining funding for WDQI at $6 million.

Looking at other line items, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Committee increased Bureau of Labor Statistics funding by $1 million above the President’s budget and House Committee levels – returning it to the 2017 figure of $609 million. Still, this leaves BLS relatively flat-funded since FY2010.  The Bureau’s Budget In Brief noted that without increases in funding, "BLS may need to implement programmatic reductions that may temporarily affect the quality and quantity” of some of its products. (WDQC joined with the American Statistical Association and other groups to advocate for adequately funding the agency.)

With another FY 2018 budget showdown likely in the works, 2018 funding levels for workforce data at DOL, the Department of Education, and the Census Bureau remain uncertain. Where Congress and the Administration reach agreement on these figures will demonstrate their level of support for evidence-based policymaking.  WDQC will continue to advocate for investing in data to inform workforce programs and policies as the FY 2018 process winds down and the FY2019 process begins.

For additional background on the importance of these and other federal statistical and data systems, see this letter signed by WDQC and organized by the Association of Public Data Users, sent to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees last spring. For other updates on workforce funding, visit the National Skills Coalition blog.