Data Matters

How the Nation’s Top Labor Cop Can Use Data to Drive Enforcement and Protect American Workers

CAP Action's David Madland and Karla Walter on how the nation’s top labor cop can use data to drive enforcement and protect American workers.

Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting the safety and rights of America’s workers. It’s impossible to enforce laws if you don’t know they are being broken. And even if you know laws are being violated, enforcement is difficult and very inefficient if you don’t have good data showing the biggest problems and worst lawbreakers.

The Department of Labor has had too little of this kind of knowledge for too long. Partly as a result of this blindness, enforcement has been lax and workers have suffered as wage theft and other workplace violations have become rampant. A 2009 study by three leading labor and employment research groups found that more than one in four low-wage workers were paid less than the legally required minimum in the previous workweek. The Obama administration can adequately enforce workplace laws only by dramatically improving DOL’s data collection and analysis capabilities.

Read more at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

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David Madland

Senior Fellow; Senior Adviser, American Worker Project

Karla Walter

Senior Director, Employment Policy