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Monday, November 18, 2013

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers

Benjamin Collins
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). Under TAAEA, eligibility and benefits for TAA are scheduled to be reduced beginning on January 1, 2014. The program will operate under these reduced provisions for one year before authorization for appropriations expires on December 31, 2014.

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. Under current law, the program provides the following group of benefits to aid a trade-affected worker in preparing for and securing new employment.

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. 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, including changes that are scheduled to be enacted at the beginning of 2014. The report then presents data on application activity and benefit usage under current and prior provisions of TAA.

Date of Report: October 24, 2013
Number of Pages: 32
Order Number: R42012
Price: $29.95

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