Trade Adjustment Assistance

Globalization and trade policies have resulted in the loss of millions of good jobs in the United States. The promise of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA) is for displaced workers to receive assistance to mitigate the damage of job loss and to help them obtain the skills needed to compete for good jobs in today's economy.

TAA does constitute one of the most complete packages of worker assistance available.  Offering up to two years of training and unemployment benefits, TAA gives dislocated workers in the U.S. a chance to complete a meaningful training course while providing for their basic expenses.  In addition, TAA provides a tax credit that pays for up to 65 percent of the costs of continuing health care.

However, the TAA program falls short of its promise.  Eligibility for benefits is limited to groups of workers who work at a facility that has successfully petitioned the federal government to prove that its job cuts were directly related to trade.  Access to the program is constrained by major eligibility restrictions, and the funding for retraining is capped by Congress.  Furthermore, TAA is marked by serious implementation challenges for states that operate the federally-funded program.

NELP has focused on state implementation of TAA since 2005, and advises community groups and unions about how to file successful TAA petitions.  NELP also advocates at the federal level for major changes in the TAA program that would make it a more powerful tool for addressing the impact of globalization in the economy.  We incorporate the lessons we've learned at the state level to the national debate over the reauthorization of the TAA program, as laid out in our congressional testimony on TAA reform priorities.

NELP has published a TAA Certification Manual that takes community groups and unions step-by-step through the process of getting certified for Trade Adjustment Assistance with concrete examples. 

For more information on our work in this area, please contact Rick McHugh,

Other key resources:

Download the U.S. Dept. of Labor TAA petition form in English or Spanish

U.S. Department of Labor Website on Trade Adjustment Assistance:  This website has background information on TAA for workers and allows you to track the status of your TAA petition online.

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms:  This website has information on Trade Adjustment Assistance for firms, a separate TAA program that provides assistance for domestic manufacturing firms hurt by imports.