Strengthening Federal Programs to Help Workers Recover

Strengthening Federal Programs to Help Workers Recover

May 03, 2021
Instructor showing students how to work equipment

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently hosted a discussion with several workforce development experts to review how Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs—an umbrella term GAO uses to cover a wide range of workforce and economic development programs—can better meet workers’ needs. EAA programs, including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Dislocated Worker formula program and the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, help workers learn new skills, transition to new in-demand fields and careers, and otherwise recover from economic disruption. I was thrilled to participate in this conversation with fellow economists, researchers, policymakers, practitioners, and other thought leaders. Based on our collective experience working to improve these programs, we outlined several ways to improve these programs and better help workers, which are summarized in a new GAO report.

Suggested improvements include:

  • Enhancing access to EAA programs by expanding outreach efforts and providing universal economic adjustment assistance for all dislocated workers, regardless of the cause of the dislocation
  • Expanding training programs to include short-term, high-demand, skills-based opportunities, while also boosting the availability of formal apprenticeships
  • Providing income support and financial planning services to job training participants
  • Providing dislocated workers with easy-to-access data on high-demand skills, earnings potential, and job availability
  • Reducing barriers to using national data sets to evaluate EAA program effectiveness

As more Americans receive their coronavirus vaccination, it’s likely that many of the jobs in hospitality, construction, and other sectors hit particularly hard by the pandemic will continue to recover. It’s also likely that not all jobs lost during the pandemic will return, and that the losses will be concentrated in specific industries and occupations. We need to strengthen EAA programs to help workers dislocated by the pandemic as well as the economic disruptions on the horizon. For more information on EAA programs, please visit Mathematica’s job training and reemployment resource page.

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