Making the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program Work for the New Economy

Authors: Lexi Curnin, Alex Heintze, & William Johnson


Existing technology could automate nearly half of all work activities today. As society continues to embrace artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and automation, companies will need fewer workers or workers with new skills, leading to displacement. The government must assist the American workforce with acquiring skills demanded by the modern workplace and support workers in transitioning to the new economy. To do so, the Biden-Harris administration should push Congress to evolve the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program into the Trade and Technology Adjustment Assistance program (TTAA) to help workers displaced not just by trade but also by advancements in emerging technologies, such as AI and robotics.

The expanded TAA program should include (1) a centralized administrative infrastructure, (2) a cutting-edge and comprehensive upskilling platform, and (3) “rainy day” funds for temporary worker assistance. The comprehensive upskilling platform, in particular, sets the proposal outlined in this memo apart from other proposals to update TAA, such as the TAA for Automation Act of 2019. The TAA for Automation Act aims to include workers displaced by automation as a group eligible for TAA services. TTAA proposed herein goes further, seeking to rethink TAA’s upskilling and training component from the ground up.

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About the Authors

Lexi Curnin is a research associate at Evercore ISI in San Francisco, where she prepares reports on IT hardware and networking companies. Previously, Lexi worked at the Defense Innovation Board within the Department of Defense. Lexi received a Bachelor’s degree in 2019 from Dartmouth College, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Alex Heintze is a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University, studying towards a Master’s degree in Global Affairs. Previously, Alex worked as a rotational associate at The Voleon Group, a quantitative hedge fund whose strategies are run exclusively by artificial intelligence. Alex received a Bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University, where he graduated magna cum laude.

William Johnson is an investment research associate at Hall Capital Partners in San Francisco, where he works on macroeconomic and capital market trends and cryptocurrency investing. Previously, William worked as a Paid Media Associate at Biden for President. William received a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, where he graduated cum laude.