Trade Adjustment Assistance Introduction and Overview


Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) is a group of four programs that separately target federal assistance to workers, firms, farmers, and communities that have been adversely affected by foreign trade. TAA was created by the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (P.L. 87-794) and has been reauthorized and expanded several times in subsequent years, most prominently as part of the Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618), the Trade Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-210), the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009, and the Act to extend the Generalized System of Preferences, and for other purposes (including Title II, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011) (P.L. 112-40).

The largest TAA program, TAA for Workers (TAAW), is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Reduced trade barriers are widely acknowledged to yield benefits to the wider population but may also have concentrated effects on domestic workers in industries that face increased competition. TAAW aims to mitigate these adverse effects by providing federal assistance to workers who have been separated from their jobs because of increased imports or because their jobs moved to a foreign country. The largest components of the TAAW program are training assistance and extended income support for workers who are enrolled in an eligible training program and have exhausted their unemployment compensation. Under the 2011 reauthorization, TAAW eligibility and benefits are set to be reduced in 2014 and the program will expire at the end of 2014.

Other TAA programs target firms, farmers, and communities that have been affected by trade. Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms was created alongside TAAW in 1962 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC). It provides federal funding to pay for technical assistance from industry experts to improve firms’ international competitiveness. Trade Adjustment Assistance for Farmers was first authorized in 2002 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It targets producers of agricultural commodities and fishermen who are adversely affected by increased imports and provides technical assistance as well as seed money to implement the recommended operational adjustments. Trade Adjustment Assistance for Communities was created in 2009 and is administered by DOC and DOL. Under the 2011 reauthorization, the program was pared back from what was authorized in 2009 and was limited to provide grants to eligible higher education institutions to offer, develop, or improve training opportunities for workers covered by the TAAW program.

Chapter Overview

This chapter of the Green Book includes a series of Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports, one of which provides a legislative history of TAA and the others discuss  TAA programs. A subsequent section lists all Tables and Figures contained in these CRS reports, and includes additional tables and figures related to TAA. The chapter also includes Links to Additional Resources.