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What is Trade Adjustment Assistance?

International trade means more and higher paying jobs for American workers.

An estimated 12 million U.S. jobs were supported by exports in 2000. Jobs supported by U.S. goods exports pay wages that are, on average, 13 percent higher than the average domestic wage. High-tech industry jobs supported by exports have average hourly earnings 34 percent higher than the national average.

Trade Adjustment Assistance programs help workers adversely affected by trade.

While the net benefits of foreign trade are enormous, some U.S. jobs are threatened by international competition. Currently, two Department of Labor programs: Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and North America Free Trade Agreement Transitional Adjustment Assistance (NAFTA-TAA), help trade-impacted workers gain or enhance job-related skills and find new jobs. The programs provide eligible workers with career counseling, up to two years of training, income support during training, job search assistance, and relocation allowances.

The Administration supports improvements to better serve workers affected by trade.

  • One consolidated trade adjustment program. All trade-impacted workers should face a single set of eligibility requirements, and receive benefits under a single set of criteria.
  • Expanded eligibility. Coverage should be expanded to include workers affected by shifts in production to any country, not just to Mexico or Canada.
    • Currently, workers are eligible for TAA if adversely affected by imports from any country, and eligible for NAFTA-TAA if adversely affected by imports from, or a shift in production by their firm to, Mexico or Canada.

  • Accelerated benefits for workers and faster reemployment.
    • The time in which a petition for TAA certification must be reviewed should be reduced by one-third, so that workers receive benefits and services sooner.
    • The program should strongly encourage early enrollment in training, in order to accelerate workers’ adjustment.
    • Waivers from the requirement that a worker be enrolled in training to receive income support should be limited to a few very specific circumstances.
      • The primary purpose of income support under the TAA programs is to enable individuals to participate in training.
      • Currently TAA provides broad authority for waivers, which can result in delaying the acquisition of new skills. At the same time, NAFTA-TAA does not permit any waivers, which can result in unnecessary enrollment or hardship.

The Administration wants to ensure that the full array of benefits available from trade is available to all Americans. It is committed to assisting workers whose jobs are threatened by or lost to international competition acquire the skills necessary to compete in the new economy.