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Prepping for Job Losses from the Free Trade Deals

October 12, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The AP has a helpful post up explaining the details of the bill to provide aid to workers who get their jobs shipped overseas that Congress thought would be wise to pass before approving these new free trade deals. They’re comparing it to an expansion of the measures that were enacted in 2009 as part of the stimulus bill and expired in February.

  • The bill provides up to 130 weeks of income support, compared with as many as 156 in the 2009 law.
  • It reduces the health coverage tax credit to 72.5 percent, from 80 percent in the 2009 law but up from 65 percent before 2009.
  • It provides $575 million to train workers over the next two years. The cost of the bill over three years, offset by spending cuts elsewhere, is put at $900 million.
  • Public sector workers who were eligible for TAA benefits under the 2009 law will no longer qualify. But others made eligible remain eligible. They include those who held service jobs; workers whose companies shifted production to China, India and other countries that are not free trade partners with the U.S.; and secondary workers such as suppliers whose jobs are affected when a plant closes.

Three new free trade deals, with Colombia (H.R. 3078), Panama (H.R. 3079), and South Korea (H.R. 3080), are going to be passed by the House tomorrow. Senate action will follow shortly. While the deals may create some new jobs, it’s very likely that they will cost more jobs than they will create. Good thing they’re passing this scaled-back displaced workers support bill now that they’re about to enact the largest U.S. free-trade expansion since NAFTA in 1994 (which, btw, eliminated about 900,000 in its first decade).

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