States receive first wave of new trade adjustment assistance

Twenty companies from fifteen states affected by competitive foreign trade received a green light Monday from the U.S. Department of Labor to seek training and employment services due to new legislation passed in May.

The petitions for benefit eligibility sought by twenty companies in fifteen states represent the first wave of certified applicants for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which took effect May 18, 2009 – after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The new law expanded program access to previously ineligible service industry workers and more than doubled the cap on annual TAA training funds from $220 million to $575 million.

“These certifications mark the beginning of a new era of opportunity for service workers who lose their jobs as a result of direct foreign competition,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said in a statement.

Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the pool of eligible TAA recipients was expanded to include: workers in companies that supply services; workers whose companies have shifted production to any foreign country; workers in public agencies; workers whose companies produce component parts of a finished product; workers in companies that supply testing, packaging, maintenance and transportation services to companies with TAA-certified workers; and workers whose companies are identified in an International Trade Commission “injury” determination listed in the Trade Act of 1974.

The “Rust Belt” was well represented by the first twenty certifications, making up more half of those companies’ home states. But companies from Phoenix, Arizona, Columbus, Mississippi and Cheraw, South Carolina also appeared on the list of twenty.

More than 1,200 petitions have been filed since May 18, the Labor Department said, compared to 137 petitions filed during the same period in 2008. More applications are expected, Mr. Solis said, adding, “Workers covered under TAA are offered the employment and training services needed to upgrade existing skills or pursue new careers in growing industries.”

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