Press Releases

JEC Releases New Report on Geographic and Occupational Immobility and Free Trade

Oct 12 2011

– The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), Chaired by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today released a report detailing the negative impact of trade on vulnerable sectors of the workforce. The report entitled, “Nowhere to Go: Geographic and Occupational Immobility and Free Trade,” shows that trade-displaced workers, who tend to be older and less-educated than other workers, find it more difficult to move to other regions of the country or to other occupations.

“Fair trade holds the promise of economic gains for the United States and our trading partners alike, but these gains do not come without a cost,” said Chairman Casey. “At a time of high unemployment and low confidence, we must be thoughtful about the impact of our policies on our workers, especially those populations that will be hardest-hit by new trade agreements.

The report finds that older workers and those without a college education are more vulnerable to the job losses that result from free trade – and these are precisely the same groups that face the most difficulties getting back on their feet in the current economy. While young people and college-educated workers may have the freedom and resources to move across the country in search of better opportunities, older Americans and those with less education often lack this mobility.

Continued Casey
, “With the current economic challenges facing the country, we must make sure those workers that lose their jobs because of unfair trade practices have the assistance they need to build skills and find new jobs.”

Jobs are hard to come by for individuals without a college degree, and opportunities are likely to remain scarce in the years ahead, since most of the jobs expected to be created are in sectors that require education beyond high school. These effects combine to extend and exacerbate the stress on families and communities negatively impacted by free trade.

Chairman Casey
continued, “More and more jobs have been sent overseas leaving our workers out in the cold.  To get jobs in new industries workers need new skills. Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) helps workers hurt by foreign trade get back to work while also ensuring employers have a skilled workforce.  We must continue to support TAA as Congress considers more trade agreements that can further harm American workers.”

Displacement costs from trade liberalization can be quite high. Those costs depend on the ability of trade-displaced workers to find new jobs and relocate. Given the already high national unemployment rate and depressed home values still evident in most states, policies that seek to liberalize trade may impose even larger costs on these workers, bolstering the need for additional investments in training or other forms of trade-adjustment assistance. 


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