This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

Search form

Trade Adjustment Assistance: What You Need to Know

Labor Secretary Tom Perez lays out why the Trade Adjustment Assistance program is so vital to American workers.

The 21st century economy is driven by an ever-changing global marketplace. What was once a fledgling business or industry can quickly grow to redefine consumer demand and reshape our workforce.

Americans are the most productive workforce in the world, and to outcompete other countries, it is vital that they have all the job training and other support they need to tap into new opportunities that the 21st century economy presents.

That is why Congress needs to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA). 

What is Trade Adjustment Assistance?

For more than 40 years, Trade Adjustment Assistance has helped support U.S. workers who are adversely affected by globalization and trade by providing job training support, career counseling, wage supplements for older workers, job search and reallocation allowances, and income support for workers in training programs.

How does it work?

If trade is believed to have played a significant part in job losses, then an employer, a group of three workers, a union or worker representative, or an American Job Center representative can apply for TAA benefits on behalf of the affected workers.

Who has it helped?

Since 1974, 2.2 million American workers have benefited from this program, which provides workers with opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support they need to obtain good jobs in an in-demand occupation — and keep them. For example, in Fiscal Year 2014, nearly 77 percent of TAA participants found a job within 6 months of completing the program, and 90 percent of those who found work retained their jobs 6 months later.

TAA provides a critical lifeline to our workers, but if Congress fails to act, the program will expire on September 30, 2015.

Fortunately, there is a bill before Congress that locks in place a robust TAA program for the next six years — giving an estimated 100,000 workers a year access to TAA benefits by:

  • Making workers eligible for up to 130 weeks of benefits that helps these workers pay their bills while they engage in a two-year training program
  • Restoring case management and employment services, which are critical to helping workers find reemployment
  • Bringing back coverage for workers affected by trade with countries that are not party to our free trade agreements, like India and China. This would restore expansions of the TAA program that the President first signed into law in 2009, but have since expired — and that benefited roughly 250,000 workers when they were in place
  • Making service sector workers — not just manufacturing workers — are eligible for TAA, restoring another provision the President signed into law in 2009 that expired at the end of 2013. Importantly, these expansions would be applied retroactively — so that an estimated 17,500 service workers who were denied benefits in the last 17 months can apply for assistance

TAA legislation has long received bipartisan support, passing with ample support from Members of Congress in 2011, including unanimous support from Democrats — 125 of whom are still in Congress today. However, this go-round, some Members are considering letting this vital program expire. 

Secretary of Labor Tom Perez sent this letter to Congress explaining why we can’t do that to American workers:   

If nothing else, here are three facts you should know about the current TAA bill in Congress: 

  1. It expands the program to allow applications from workers who cannot currently receive assistance, including service workers and those affected by trade with countries like China and India, with whom we don’t have Free Trade Agreements — making 24,000 to 30,000 additional workers a year eligible for the program.
  2. By more than doubling the cap on training funds that states can spend on workers, the bill provides more than enough funding to provide full benefits to all eligible workers who might apply for TAA assistance.
  3. Without action, TAA will expire on September 30, 2015 — and this bill offers our best opportunity to restore and expand a vital lifeline for American workers, and it would do so for a full six years.

Now that you know about TAA, take a deep dive into a few other trade terms you might be wondering about here.

Then head to to find out more about the President's trade policy.