Dislocated Worker: Definition, Status, WIOA, COVID-19, and More [2020]

A dislocated worker is a professional or individual who has lost their job due to a company layoff. A dislocated worker is also referred to as a displaced worker. This constitutes professionals who have lost their jobs due to situations or circumstances that are beyond their control. This is often confused with employees who have been terminated for cause (job performance, tardiness, or general misconduct), as they are not considered displaced or dislocated workers.

Understanding Dislocated Workers

A general definition of a dislocated worker (or dislocated worker status) is one or more of the following:

  • Lost employment due to a lay off or mass layoff within the company.
  • A self-employed person who is without work due to a natural disaster or economic disaster nationwide. This includes general economic conditions being unworthy of employment
  • They are the spouse of an Armed Forces employee or active duty member and have lost employment as a result of relocation or duty change. This includes a military spouse.
  • A spouse or displaced homemaker (an individual who has been providing unpaid services to family members in the home) who is no longer supported by their partner and are unemployed or underemployed.
  • These guidelines also apply to those who are a student and are considered one or more of the above qualifications.

Dislocated workers are often eligible for unemployment benefits and unemployment pay. A dislocated worker can file for the Dislocated Worker Program which is federally funded by The Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Eligibility of this program is the following:

  • Workers who have been laid off and received notice of being laid off due to a closing of a manufacturing location, foreign competition, or general lack of demand for their skills by the employer or employers.
  • Self-employed workers who are out of work due to an economic disaster or natural disaster. This includes those who are in manual labor. Like agriculture, farming, ranching, fishing, contractor services, homemakers, and more.

To understand eligibility in more detail reference your states WIOA Section 133 (b)(2)(b).

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Dislocated Worker Program

The WIOA Dislocated Worker Program is a U.S. Department of Labor backed service that aims at getting workers back into employment quickly through dislocated worker services. These services include a rapid response team and program that is designed to help work with employers and employees to maximize public and private resources to minimize disruptions associated with mass job loss. This program can assist in the job search of those affected by a substantial layoff.

For more information on WIOA please visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Dislocated Worker Training

The U.S. The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) also provides assistance on training programs and training services that are available to workers who have been laid off or are about to be laid off. It includes occupational skills training in some circumstances. More information on this program can be found on the Dislocated Workers section of the website or by contacting an American Job Center nearby.

Dislocated Worker Grant

A dislocated worker grant is available in the event of a natural disaster or mass economic downturn (like the circumstances of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic). These grants are awarded by the Secretary of Labor, under Section 170 of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The funding is intended to temporarily expand the capacity of workers in the military service, health services, education services, and other main sectors of the nation in order to reemploy laid-off workers and enhance their employability and earnings.

Unemployment and Unemployment Benefits

Eligibility requirements for unemployment specifies that an employee must not be experiencing termination in order to apply for their state's unemployment benefits. Workforce reduction or impending layoff. Unemployment compensation will be determined by the state based on your previous job and current economic conditions that are affecting the economy.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s unemployment insurance programs provide assistance and unemployment benefits to eligible workers who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. This has changed March 27 of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and outbreak. President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relive, and Economic Security (CARES) Act which provides more eligibility for unemployment insurance to those who have become unemployed. For more information on unemployment insurance benefits visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

Getting Back to Work

Job seekers may want to find alternative career services that can help to place the newly unemployed worker into a previous industry or new industry that is flourishing during the distressing economic downturn. Career services are available nationwide and can be found on a local level. The service member will help a job seeker to understand labor market information and conditions that could affect their job search or occupation. And determine the appropriate next steps for finding employment.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.


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