Federal Funding for DOL Training Programs, 1985-2011
November 30, 2011
Public worker training programs rely primarily on federal funding, and programs for disadvantaged and displaced workers operate mainly through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). However, DOL training expenditures are small relative to other federally-sponsored investments in the workforce, despite the fact that investments in training appear to provide returns comparable to other investments in education. For example, in 2010, the federal government authorized more than $50.5 billion for elementary, secondary, and vocational education – much of it for grants to state and local governments – and more than $12.6 billion on higher education. Meanwhile, the budget for training programs through the DOL was just over $6 billion. Spending on training has gradually fallen from a high level in the early 1980s, apart from a 2009 bump from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and some recent expenditures. In the late 1970s, funding for Job Training Partnership Act itself was more than $15 billion in 2010 dollars. Training budgets have since fallen to around $6 billion in recent years, and the spike from the Recovery Act brought the 2009 total to just under $10 billion.