Trade Adjustment Assistance

Trade Adjustment Assistance

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a program of the United States Department of Labor that provides a variety of reemployment services and benefits to workers who have lost their jobs or suffered a reduction of hours and wages as a result of increased imports or shifts in production outside the United States. The TAA program aims to help program participants obtain new jobs, ensuring they retain employment and earn wages comparable to their prior employment.


TAA was established as part of the Trade Expansion Act in 1962, during the Presidency of John F. Kennedy. It authorized the Secretary of Labor to implement Trade Readjustment Assistance (TRA) and relocation allowances through cooperating state agencies. TRA are income support payments that were, at that time, paid in addition to an individual's regular unemployment compensation. The original program had no training or reemployment component. The program was rarely used until 1974, when it was expanded as part of the Trade Act of 1974. The Trade Act of 1974 established the training component of the program. In 1981, the program was sharply curtailed by the Congress at the request of the Reagan Administration. [Trade Adjustment Assistance [ TAA Colalition] Retrieved on 13 December, 2007] In 2002, the program was again expanded and combined with the trade adjustment program provided under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). [Hearing on Promoting U.S. Worker Competitiveness in a Globalized Economy [ Committee on Ways and Means] Retrieved on 5 December, 2007]

The program is administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) in cooperation with the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Program Eligibility

Workers must be directly impacted by imports or by a shift in production of their firm to any country with a free trade agreement with the United States, or by certain other shifts in production. Employees of upstream suppliers are eligible if the product supplied to the primary firm consists 20% of the production or sales of the secondary workers’ firm, or their employer’s loss of business with the primary firm contributed significantly to the secondary workers’ separation from work.

Employees of downstream producers are eligible if they perform additional, value-added production processes for articles produced by primary firms, and the primary certification was based on an increase in imports or a shift in production to Canada or Mexico.

Farmers and ranchers adversely impacted by trade will be eligible to participate in a new program operated by the Department of Agriculture and are potentially eligible to receive training under TAA. They are not eligible for the Trade Readjustment Allowance.

Under the current law, workers in most service jobs (call center operators, for example) are not eligible for trade adjustment assistance. In 2004, a group of computer experts displaced by overseas labor tried to apply for trade adjustment assistance but were rejected because computer software was not considered an "article" by the DOL. After a series of scathing decisions by the United States Court of International Trade criticizing the DOL's approach, the DOL revised its policies in April 2006 to extend trade adjustment assistance to more workers producing digital products such as software code. [Outsourced Programmers Finally Get Same Benefits As Laid-Off Factory Workers--A Fair, But Costly, Development [ Information Week] Retrieved on 11 December, 2007]


External links

* [ Department of Labor website]
* [ Evaluation of first 24 years of TAA]

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