Chao Halfway to Perkins' Tenure as Labor Secretary

The definitive U.S. secretary of Labor is Frances Perkins, the first woman to hold the job. Appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt in March 1933, she was involved in many of the formative labor laws and issues of America's modern age, including enactment of the Social Security Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Today, the secretary's post is usually held by a woman -- and the current incumbent is halfway to the 12 years, three months that Perkins served as secretary.

Elaine Chao now is the longest-serving U.S. secretary of Labor since W. Willard Wirtz, who was appointed by President John F. Kennedy and held the post from Sept. 25, 1962 to Jan. 20, 1969. And Chao will pass Wirtz soon: She began serving after her Senate confirmation on Jan. 29, 2001.

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