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Department of Labor Certified Trade-Related Job Loss
The reduction of tariffs on foreign goods and/or elimination of import quotas results in the elimination of companies and/or industries whose products are undercut by increases in foreign imports. Most often, the key factor that determines whether a foreign-made good is cheaper than the domestic good is the cost of labor in the country of origin. Workers losing jobs to imports or plant relocations overseas -- and the communities and regions reliant on economic sectors destroyed by such shifts--find their futures uncertain. Even the strongest proponents of free trade theory believe in trying to assist these workers and communities to adjust to their altered futures, if for no other reason than to take the edge off of the anger about job-losing trade policies.
Federally-funded programs that provide assistance to U.S. workers who lose their jobs because of U.S. trade policy--such as those in "import-sensitive" industries--have existed since 1962. These programs involve a "certification" process (usually initiated by worker groups, unions or company officials) to confirm that workers are eligible for assistance because they lost their jobs to trade or because they are members of a category of targeted workers. Under existing programs, a group application must first be filed and approved by the Department of Labor, after which each individual worker must then apply for benefits through a local Unemployment Insurance (UI) agency office. Certified workers that enroll in training at a program-approved facility can then qualify for a range of benefits that currently include up to 78 weeks of income support after state UI benefits are exhausted, a refundable 65 percent tax credit for certain health care plans and reimbursement of job search and relocation expenses.
The following Department of Labor data capture only a limited number of total job losses caused by trade liberalization and corporate globalization. Only certain workers in specific types of industries who lose jobs are eligible and of these, for a variety of reasons, many will not apply for assistance through these programs. It has been estimated, for example, that less than 10 percent of all workers who lost their jobs in import-sensitive manufacturing industries in 1999 received TAA benefits that year (Howard Rosen, "Reforming Trade Adjustment Assistance" February 26, 2002). A more comprehensive, state-by-state estimate of jobs lost and created by trade liberalization is available at the Economic Policy Institute.
These databases do, however, provide examples of geographic areas and economic sectors particularly hard hit by trade and globalization. They list specific jobs certified by the government as having been lost to trade. Although only the tip of the iceberg, they provide a sample of real people's experiences. Each of the three data-sets provides searchable, company- and state-level information on approved certifications and the estimated number of workers covered for the following time periods:
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