Analyst in Labor Policy
Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers (TAA) provides federal assistance to workers who have been adversely affected by foreign trade. It was most recently authorized by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011 (TAAEA; Title II of P.L. 112-40).
To be eligible for TAA, a group of workers must establish that they were separated from their employment either because their jobs moved outside the United States or because of an increase in directly competitive imports. Workers at firms that are suppliers to or downstream producers of TAA-certified firms may also be eligible for TAA benefits. Under current law, both production and service workers are eligible for TAA.
After the Department of Labor verifies the role of foreign trade in the group’s job losses, workers may apply for individual benefits. These benefits are funded by the federal government and, with limited exception, administered by the states.
- Reemployment services are available to assist trade-affected workers in planning for and returning to employment. Training is the largest reemployment service expense. Eligible training programs include a variety of public and private options and may not exceed 104 weeks. In lieu of or in addition to training, workers may receive employment services such as case management, skills assessment, and job search assistance. Workers may also receive allowances for job searches outside their local commuting area and relocation expenses once a new job has been secured. Under current law, annual expenditures on reemployment services are capped at $575 million.
- Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) is an income support for TAA-certified workers who have exhausted their unemployment insurance (UI) and are enrolled in an eligible training program. TRA payments are equal to the workers’ final UI benefit. Workers may receive UI and TRA for a combined total of 117 weeks and 130 weeks under certain circumstances.
- Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) is available to TAAcertified workers age 50 and over. This program supplements the wages of eligible workers who secure new employment at a lower wage.
- A Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) is also available to TAA-certified workers. This program offers a refundable tax credit equal to 72.5% of expenditures on a qualified health plan. Unlike other TAA benefits, the HCTC is administered through the federal tax code and not by state agencies.
This report provides background on the TAA program. After a brief introduction, it discusses TAA eligibility and benefits as set by TAAEA. It then describes how the program is funded and administered. The report concludes by presenting data on recent application activity and benefit usage.
Date of Report: July 11, 2012
Number of Pages: 30
Order Number: R42012
Document available via e-mail as a pdf file or in paper form.
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