In 1935 the Department of Labor was established by statutory authority in PL 1935, chapter 2250, Section 90. Upon creation, the department assumed the responsibilities of the former Commissioner of Labor and the Superintendent of Industrial Statistics existing before that title. This statute also abolished the Census Board whereupon the Director of Labor assumed all responsibilities and functions relating to conducting the decennial census and keeping statistics. The last census was taken in 1935/6 and the statute was repealed completely in 1985. The department gradually evolved over the following decades to include a variety of divisions, boards, and advisory councils related to all fields of labor. In 1996 PL 226 renamed the department as the Department of Labor and Training (RIGL §42.16.1)
The Department began with three divisions, the Division of Labor Relations, the Division of Industrial Inspection, and the Division of Personnel (Census and Statistics). In 1936 the Division of Women and Children was created under the Department per Chapter 2289 of the Public Laws of 1936.
The Division of Women and Children administered the regulations affecting the employment of women and minors: The Minimum Wage Law, the Forty-Eight Hour Law, the Industrial Homework Law and the Child Labor Regulations. The Division also acted as a clearinghouse for requests for information regarding the federal law, supervised the issuance of minor work permits by school departments throughout the state and processed complaints received regarding the enforcement of the Federal law (Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938). The passage of RI Equal Pay Law in 1946 abolished wage differentials based on sex and Chapter 3420 established the state minimum wage in 1955. The division was renamed the Division of Labor Standards in 1973 (Chapter 250, 73-S-986)
A study examining what is described as "the United States' Number One economic problem:" unemployment. The report identifies the central cause of unemployment as changing manufacturing technologies, rendering certain industries obsolete and moving other industries outside of New England.
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