Help from Trade Adjustment Assistance program

The federal governments Trade Adjustment Assistance program is being greatly expanded as a result of President Barack Obama's stimulus plan. Overall, it is expected that the program will almost double in size within 5 years, and this will provide additional help and assistance to eligible Americans.

There are several improvements. New rules will cover a broader range of workers than only those who worked in the hard-hit manufacturing sector. Another very important improvement will be that the amount of time that workers can collect unemployment pay to three years and offer more help paying health insurance costs and medical bills.

Workers who participate in the program are able to qualify for unemployment checks for up to three years — which is almost twice as long as the typical worker who losses their job and who is not affected by "off-shoring", which is the shifting of American jobs to foreign countries.

In addition, beginning in June 2009 laid-off white-collar workers will receive additional benefits. Those who lost their jobs and worked in service industries such as software development, accounting, auto parts design and call center industries or operations will also become eligible for the more generous benefits from the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.

One condition for job training is that participants in the program can only enroll in job training for occupations that are in high demand, such as green jobs and employment in health care.

Currently about 50,000 workers across the nation receive training and benefits through the trade assistance program. To qualify for the program, workers, their company or a union that they are part of must prove a job was lost because of offshoring or increased import competition, which is basically proving that because of a shift of that function to another country or if a U.S. company closed its doors and moved overseas then the person lost their job. This is according said Howard Rosen, who is the executive director of the Washington, D.C. based nonprofit TAA Coalition, which helps workers apply for and understand the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.






By Jon McNamara

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