President Barack Obama announces Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, as his nominee to become labor secretary. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg) President Barack Obama announces Thomas Perez as his nominee to become labor secretary. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

The Department of Labor would receive $12.1 billion in discretionary funding in the proposed 2014 budget, an increase of $100 million from that proposed for 2013, money the White House said will help unemployed workers gain skills to find new jobs.

“We don’t have to sacrifice investments in a growing economy on the altar of deficit reduction,” acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris said during a Web question and answer session Wednesday afternoon.

The budget includes nearly $1.8 billion for the department’s worker protection agencies, which are meant to protect health, safety, wages and job conditions for workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would receive an additional $5.9 million to bolster its enforcement of whistle-blower laws.

The proposed funding also includes $381 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, in part to implement recommendations stemming from the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in West Virginia in 2012.

The department said the proposed budget will “reform” the Job Corps program, which provides support to disadvantaged youth around the country. Financial and contract oversight will be strengthened, according to the department. And three Job Corps centers described as “chronically low-performing” are being closed, according to Labor officials, but they declined to give details.