The federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program provides funds for job retraining and other benefits to those who have lost jobs due to international trade, including offshore outsourcing. Benefits include income support, job search and relocation allowances, a tax credit to help pay the costs of health insurance, and a wage subsidy to workers 50 years of age and older.

This program has been in effect for several decades, but the Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act of 2009 expanded the program by increasing the amount of assistance to those enrolled in the program and expanding the eligibility requirements. After the 2009 amendments, workers in firms that supply services, including in the IT industry, became eligible for the program for the first time.

However, the 2009 amendments were enacted with a sunset provision and expired (after a 2-month extension) on February 12, 2011. This means that workers in the IT service sector who are laid off in 2011 may not be eligible for TAA benefits.

As of February 13, 2011, the TAA will provide assistance to trade-affected workers who work in firms that produce articles, based on:

  • increased imports of like or directly competitive articles,
  • a shift in production to a foreign country with which the US has a free trade agreement or to another country where there also is a likelihood of increased imports of those articles to the U.S.,
  • workers whose firms supply articles for firms with TAA-certified workers or provide additional, value-added production processes directly for firms with TAA-certified workers.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimated that the states, who receive the funds from the federal government, may lose $267 million because the funding was not renewed after the sunset provision. The Labor Department provides a comprehensive summary of the program, broken down by state. The summary indicates that 282,635 workers participated in the program in 2010.