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New Rule Allows State Workforce Agencies to Tailor Staffing Approach Under the Wagner-Peyser Act

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced a final rule that will allow states to tailor their staffing approach when providing services in the Employment Service program.

Established under the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933, the Employment Service program was originally a national system of public employment offices. To further the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA’s) vision of an integrated service delivery system, the Employment Service program is now a mandatory partner in the American Job Center network. The Employment Service program helps Americans find jobs through services such as job search assistance, re-employment services for unemployment insurance claimants, specialized services for farmworkers and recruitment services for employers with job openings.

“As states continue to implement integration of workforce services, this flexibility encourages even greater collaboration across programs and partners at the state level,” said John Pallasch, head of the department’s Employment and Training Administration. “The changes give states the flexibility to more effectively and efficiently staff their employment outreach services.”

However, some have sharply opposed the rule arguing that it privatizes government services that may not be contracted to the private sector.

The Department responds that “the rule does not privatize Wagner-Peyser Act services. States retain responsibility to provide Wagner-Peyser Act services, and this rule provides flexibility to States to offer these services using the best staffing approach available to them,”

ETA administers federal government job training and dislocated worker programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.