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U.S. Aid Urged for Retraining Layoff Victims

January 12, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — The government should spend at least $900 million to retrain the victims of massive industrial layoffs caused by foreign competition and a changing domestic economy, an advisory panel said today.

While the group of 21 business, labor and academic leaders agreed on most issues, it could not agree on how to fund the program. A previous draft report recommended a new payroll tax, but the final version recommended the use of "general (tax) revenues."

Its members also could not agree on the sticky issue of whether to require companies to give notice before factory shutdowns.

"The permanent displacement of some jobs is an inevitable consequence of a dynamic world economy," the panel said. "Plant closings and permanent layoffs can reflect the strategic flexibility needed to keep the U.S. economy competitive and growing."

'Additional Drain'

But U.S. productivity is weakened by "losing experienced employees from the work force," the report said, and "having these people out of work places an additional drain on public funds."

The Task Force on Economic Adjustment and Worker Dislocation, formed by Labor Secretary Bill Brock in October, 1985, issued its final report calling for a national program to help workers look for jobs and providing classroom and on-the-job training and literacy help.

It also recommends a new Federal Dislocated Worker Unit to be run by the states, under guidance from the Labor Department.

The report estimates that 1.2 million workers would become eligible for aid annually under the proposed program. An estimated 535,000 people--about 45% of those eligible--would take advantage of the new program, the group said.

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