Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) introduced legislation today that would extend Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits to displaced service workers, such as software programmers and other hi-tech workers. TAA provides income support, job training, job searching, relocation assistance and health care tax credits to workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign trade.  Currently, TAA is available only to workers in the manufacturing and agricultural sectors; for example, thousands of local ex-Boeing employees recently received TAA assistance due to an increase in the domestic-market share of Airbus Industries.  

Labor Department reports indicate that outsourcing is increasingly taking a toll in major sectors of the service economy, including higher wage jobs.  According to Labor Department data, 543,000 jobs were lost from January 2001 through January 2004 in the information/technology sector alone.

"This legislation is critical to those in the service sector who are losing jobs due to offshore outsourcing," said Smith. "There is a fundamental need to enact legislation that recognizes the reality of our changing economy."

In addition to extending TAA eligibility to service sector workers, the bill would also expand the eligibility for TAA for Firms to include service sector firms.  In addition, the bill would make several changes to improve the administration of the existing TAA program such as simplifying the eligibility requirements for participation, clarifying the types of training programs covered, and improving the health care tax credit.  While many trade-displaced workers are eligible for the health care tax credit, few are able to take advantage of this program.  The changes included in this bill will help workers maintain comprehensive, affordable coverage for themselves and their families.