Wisconsin Department of Workforce
Timeline History: 1883-Present
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and its predecessor state agencies, along with its component programs, have a long history of service to Wisconsin citizens. Since 1883, the Department has been dedicated to the welfare of Wisconsin workers and workplaces. Beginning with labor market statistics and workplace safety, the Department grew along with the national concern for fair treatment of workers and locating workers for employers. Today, with the incorporation of economic support and vocational rehabilitation programs, the Department is the umbrella for all of the Wisconsin programs that relate to employment.
This timeline tells the story of the Department's creation, development, and maturation. It includes both national and state legislation that underlies the Department's programs. The timeline also includes the history of some related programs that occurred in other governmental agencies.
1883 - Wisconsin Bureau of Labor Statistics
Wisconsin's Labor Department is born with the creation of the Wisconsin Bureau of Labor Statistics.
1911 - Wisconsin Industrial Commission
The Wisconsin Industrial Commission, which was responsible for implementing the nation's first Worker's Compensation law, among many other thing, existed from 1911 until 1966.
1967 - Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations (DILHR)
The Kellett Commission studying organization of state government recommended consolidating labor-related functions and creating the Department of Industry, Labor & Human Relations (DILHR) from the old Industrial Commission.
1996 - Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD)
The Department of Workforce Development was created after the Legislative Audit Bureau and the SAVE Commission found that a myriad of employment programs existed, many of them competing or uncoordinated, causing confusion and frustration for employers and job seekers.
Each agency and program had its own administrative structure and delivery systems, causing duplication and inefficiency. The proliferation of programs and services meant that many customers did not receive the services they were looking for, or were forced to hunt and peck for what they needed.
On July 1, 1996, DWD was created using elements taken from the old Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and adding essential services from the Department of Health and Social Services, such as vocational rehabilitation and economic support.