Stuart Shoun, 59 years old, has been laid off three times since 1999. After one layoff, the Hickory machinist studied architecture at a community college but then couldn’t find a job and returned to the furniture industry. He makes $45,000 a year, the same as he did nearly 20 years ago and $14,000 a year poorer after adjusting for inflation.The article goes into more detail on the industries devastated by the switch to Chinese manufactured goods in the United States, and then delves into the details of "trade adjustment assistance":
Government efforts for laid-off workers haven’t helped much. Washington’s formal program to retrain workers hurt by import competition, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, pays for two years of college tuition and extends unemployment-insurance payouts.
A 2012 evaluation ordered by the Labor Department found that program participants, especially those older than 50, generally made less money four years after starting the program than those who didn’t sign up. The others went back to work more quickly.
Mr. Shuford, Century’s chief executive, calls the job-relief program a “Band-Aid for an economy that has a sliced artery.”I am broadly sympathetic to claims that trade is, on balance, good for the United States. But until we actually figure out how to help those who lose their jobs due to trade, I cannot blame my fellow citizens for being skeptical.