Dislocated Workers:

An Early Look at the NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance Program

HEHS-95-31: Published: Nov 28, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 28, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Labor's efforts to provide services to workers affected by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), focusing on: (1) shortening the time frame for certification; (2) including states in the certification process; (3) broadening eligibility requirements; and (4) tying income support more closely to retraining and eliminating waivers.

GAO found that: (1) Labor has shortened its certification process for the NAFTA Transitional Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program, resulting in 94 percent of NAFTA-TAA determinations being made in 40 days or less; (2) the states' added role in the NAFTA-TAA certification process has ensured rapid response services for dislocated workers; (3) although Labor has broadened the NAFTA-TAA eligibility requirements to include secondary workers, limited guidance, unclear authority, and a slow and cumbersome funding mechanism make it difficult for such workers to access benefits; (4) while Labor has more closely tied cash benefits to training by eliminating waivers and requiring workers to enroll in training, these restrictions have resulted in some workers receiving incomplete assessments and remedial assistance, and a limited mix of services; (5) Labor has not adequately addressed the lack of ongoing support, follow-up, and performance monitoring for NAFTA-TAA; and (6) while Labor has encouraged closer coordination between federal dislocated worker programs, it has not formally required states to track NAFTA-TAA participants.

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