Case #2031.0

Reclaiming the American Dream: Thomas Perez and the Department of Labor

Publication Date: March 04, 2015
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In July 2013 Tom Perez became the United States' 26th Secretary of Labor. Perez took the helm of the Department of Labor at a critical juncture. In recent years, the U.S. economy was marred by historically high rates of unemployment, fueled by the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Although the economy had begun a slow recovery in 2010, there were only lackluster gains in private sector jobs. By 2013, more than 11 million Americans remained out of jobs and--in a competitive global marketplace--faced disheartening employment prospects. The Department of Labor was besieged by a sharp rise in demand for its worker development and protection services, but hobbled by fierce budget cuts. At a time when Americans faced stagnant wages and rising income inequality, could Perez's leadership help revive America's "ladder of opportunity?" The case provides a comprehensive review of the U.S. Department of Labor. The case explores the challenges Perez faces in his first year as Secretary of Labor and questions what his priorities should be even as millions of Americans struggle to make a decent living.

Learning Objective:
This case introduces students to the architecture of strategic alignment (between mission, capacity, and support) and provides them with an analytical framework to identify and create feasible effective strategies to solve public policy issues.

Other Details

Case Author:
Anjani Datla
Faculty Lead:
John D. Donahue
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Joseph B. Tompkins, Jr. Fund for Case Study and Research