WASHINGTON — THE North American Free Trade Agreement is one of the administration's top priorities this coming fall, but it will be a "hard sell," says Labor Secretary Robert Reich.
"NAFTA has become a symbol of the anxiety over low-wage work" in America, he told reporters at a Monitor breakfast Friday.
Mr. Reich says the US is having different jobs problems that each require different approaches.
* The short-term sluggishness of the economy. The deficit-cutting package that passed Congress last week should help stimulate interest-sensitive industries by holding down interest rates, he says.
* The growing mismatch between the skills of the work force and those needed in the economy.
The number of people who are permanently laid off is at a post-war high, says Reich.
Increasingly, the jobless need "re-employment" benefits such as retraining rather than unemployment benefits to tide them over.