Welcome to the Massachusetts Workforce Association's monthly newsletter: Workforce Connections! Look for this publication in your inbox each month and share with your staff and others.

In This Issue:
  • State and Federal Policy Updates: Budget Updates, State House Equity Plan, UI Data, TAA Update
  • MWA Updates: Virtual Annual Meeting Recap, July Workforce Webinar, Future of Work Commission, New Public Policy Agenda, Anti-Racism Resources
  • Member Updates: MassHire Award Finalists Announced, Rapid Reemployment Grants Announced, MassHire Greater Brockton WB ED Honored, MassHire Cape & Islands WB ArtWorks Program Flipbook, MassHire Lowell Opens New Young Adult Career Center
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates now on our website!
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State Public Policy
State House
Legislature Rejects Governor Baker's ARPA Proposal

Last week, Governor Baker proposed to allocate $2.8 billion, including $240 million for workforce development, of the over $5 billion in federal funds that Massachusetts received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Under the proposal, the Administration would have immediately allocated $2.8 billion, leaving the Legislature full control over the more than $2 billion that remained.

Over the past week both the House and Senate voted to reject the Governor's proposal and on Monday the Governor signed H.3827 An Act relative to transferring federal funds to the federal covid-19 response fund. This legislation will transfer about $4.89 billion to an account that will be controlled by the Legislature. As for spending the ARPA funds, both chambers have indicated they will undergo a process that includes public hearings and input. In signing the legislation, Governor Baker announced that he would file new legislation again seeking to spend over $2.9 billion of the ARPA funds on areas such as housing and homeownership supports, economic development, job training, addiction treatment, and water and sewer infrastructure.

MWA will continue to advocate for the workforce system to receive funds as soon as possible. In the meantime, the Administration has set up a website where you can track how the state plans to spend the ARPA funding, see here.
FY22 Budget Conference Committee Appointed, Interim Budget Passed

Earlier this month the House and Senate formed a budget conference committee to reconcile the House and Senate FY22 budgets. Conferees include: Senators Rodrigues, Freedman, and O'Connor and Representatives Michlewitz, Ferrante, and Smola. While the conferees continue to negotiate a final budget, the Legislature has passed and the Governor has signed into law H.3905, a one month $5.14 billion interim budget for July.

Click here to read the letter MWA sent to the budget conference committee in support of various key workforce line items.
Pandemic Related Policies Extended

As the State of Emergency came to an end in Massachusetts, the Legislature passed and the Governor singed into law S.2475, An Act relative to extending certain covid-19 measurers adopted during the state of emergency. This legislation extends a number of important covid-19 policies including:
  • Allowing for remote open meetings of public entities until April 2022.
  • Extending outdoor dining until April 2022 and to-go beer, wine, and cocktails through May 2022.
  • Additional housing protections for renters. Click here for more on the updates to the Eviction Diversion Initiative.
State House Equity Plan
On June 14th a Legislatively created Committee on Racial Equity, Civil Rights, and Inclusion convened its first hearing. Chaired by Senator Chang-Diaz and Representative Williams, the committee discussed many priorities including addressing structural racism, enforcing a 2018 criminal justice reform law, making licenses available to undocumented immigrants, and focusing on achieving equality for communities of color. In addition to outlining priorities, many speakers touched on how COVID-19 has impacted communities of color, including higher rates of infection, challenges accessing vaccines, and higher unemployment rates. You can view video of the hearing here.
May 2021 Unemployment Rate and Claims Data, Economic Updates
On 6/21, the state released the unemployment rate for May 2021. Massachusetts saw its seasonally adjusted rate decline 0.3 percentage points to 6.1 percent. The MA labor force participation rate remained at 66.4 percent, up 2.5 percentage points from the prior year. The labor force increased by 1,900 from April. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates were released on 6/22 and the local press release can be found here.

UI Claims Data
Last week DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 6/19/2021 including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date. Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry. (Note: initial claims for the current and prior week are estimated due to a system processing error and corrected values will be provided when available.) Regular UI claims increased slightly from the previous week as some schools closed for summer vacation. Claims for all other programs decreased.
  • Continued claims for the week ending 6/19 decreased to 65,221, the lowest level since late December 2019.
  • PUA continued weeks decreased to 224,090.
  • PEUC continued weeks feel below 200,000 for the first time since late March 2021, to 196,276.
  • As of June 13-19, there were 1,885 claims for continued weeks for federal/state Extended Benefits (EB).

Unemployment Benefit Determination Calculator
As the economy reopens, many unemployed workers may be trying to figure out how to access training or education, or look for work while still accessing benefits. DUA has developed an online calculator to help individuals make the best decision for them. Click here to access the calculator.

MassBenchmarks Journal Released
Last week, The UMass Donahue Institute released their latest journal featuring articles about the economic condition of the state, how the EITC could help the state's Latinx population, housing instability, and the impact of the 2020 Census occurring during the pandemic. Click here to read more.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
Updates from D.C.

TAA Modernization
House Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee have released their initial Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) modernization proposal. See here for the bill and here for a section-by-section summary.

A broader U.S. Competitiveness bill has already passed the Senate and is now under consideration in the House. This TAA effort could get connected to the competitiveness bill as it moves through the House process. Please reach out to Tonja with any feedback or questions on the proposal.

Biden Submits Proposed Budget, Senate Appropriations Begin
On May 28th, President Biden released his FY2022 budget request. See here for a spreadsheet which compares FY22 requests to the FY21 enacted levels for various programs. The President's proposal would invest significantly in workforce development by fully funding WIOA Title I to FY20 levels (the last year of authorized funding in WIOA). As the Senate begins its appropriations process, see here for a letter USWA recently sent and which MWA signed on.

Secretary Walsh Testifies Before the House Education and Labor Committee
On June 9th, Secretary Walsh testified before the House Education and Labor Committee on the Department's priorities. At the hearing there was discussion about WIOA reauthorization and the department's position, including the desire to see more workers' voices on workforce boards. You can read the Secretary's testimony here.
Federal Eviction Moratorium Extended
The CDC extended the Eviction Moratorium through July 31st, stating this will be the final extension of the moratorium. To read the declaration, click here.
Range of Experts Participate in MWA 2021 Virtual Annual Meeting Series
On Thursday, June 10 and June 17, MWA held its second virtual Annual Meeting Series. In the first session, we were fortunate to have a range of experts join us to share their work advocating and developing policies in housing, transportation, and early education & care. These issues, so inextricably intertwined with workforce development and residents' access to employment and training, are important for us to keep track of as we share goals of a more equitable, prosperous Commonwealth for all.

In the second session, we focused on the business case for improving the quality of low wage jobs. MWA Board Vice Chair Valerie Sutton of Harvard Graduate School of Education moderated a panel including experts from the Good Jobs Institute and MataHari Women Workers' Center. We also heard from a local restauranteur, who shared his success, despite the pandemic, retaining workers and not relying on the tipped minimum wage. Senator Jamie Eldridge shared a number of bills active in the legislature right now to protect worker safety, eliminate wage theft, and provide one fair wage, among other things.

Save the date for our next Workforce Webinar, July 20th at 3PM with General Assembly, "How Can Tech Education Accelerate Economic Recovery in Massachusetts?" Click here to register!
MWA Executive Director Invited to Participate on Future of Work Commission
MWA Executive Director Tonja Mettlach was invited to be a Commissioner on a new legislative Future of Work Commission which was created in the 2020 Economic Development bill. Click here to read the enacting legislation. The first meeting was held Tuesday, June 29th virtually. You can view the recording here. Others on the Commission include Secretary Acosta, MWA Board Member Lauren Jones, and representatives from labor unions, business associations, the early education and care industry, the office of worker safety and health and more.

Co-Chaired by Senator Lesser and Representative Cutler, the group heard presentations from the Aspen Institute on the gig economy, the UMass Amherst Labor Center on technological change and automation impacts on workers, and from the Office of the President of SEIU on national future of work trends.
MWA releases 2021/2022 Legislative Agenda
At MWA's June Board Meeting, our 2021/2022 Legislative Agenda was approved. The agenda includes the following priority areas of focus, all considered using a racial equity and inclusion lens:
  • Responsive and Fully Funded Public Workforce System
  • Innovation, Training, and Apprenticeship
  • Supports for Overcoming Barriers to Employment
  • Employer Engagement and Partnerships
This agenda will guide our advocacy work during this legislative session. You can read more about MWA's Public Policy Agenda and work on our website here.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
MWA is following the conversation among the workforce development and related communities about how racism and white supremacy influence the field and practice of workforce development. We will continue to use this newsletter to share relevant tools, articles and resources to support the workforce development community.
2021 MassHire Award Finalists Announced
The MassHire Award Finalists were announced earlier this month. We are pleased to share the finalists in each of the MassHire value categories on our blog here. Congratulations to all who were nominated and who made it to the final round!

The winners will be announced at the MassHire Day Award Ceremony which will take place virtually at 10AM on Thursday July 22nd. All are welcome to attend. Click here to register.
The Metro South West Chamber and Eastern Bank presented the 23rd Annual ATHENA Award to Sheila Sullivan-Jardim, Executive Director of the MassHire Greater Brockton Workforce Board on June 18th. The award is given to "an exceptional individual who has achieved excellence in his/her business or profession, has served the community in a meaningful way, and has assisted women in reaching their full leadership potential." Congratulations Sheila!

To read more about Sheila and the event, click here.
The MassHire Cape & Islands Workforce Board released the 2021 ArtWorks Program Flipbook. The flipbook highlights the work of students and mentors who participate in the program. As the Executive Director of the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod explained, "The ArtWorks Program is an equalizer for students of all economic backgrounds, cultures, and artistic endeavors...The ArtWorks Program provides vital training and support that prepares students for the future demands of employment,
which in turn lays a foundation that secures our economic strength within the Cape community."

Click here to view the flipbook.
Rapid Reemployment Grants Announced
On June 10th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the first round of grants in the $4.6M Partnerships for Recovery Rapid Reemployment Grant Program. The first round of funding, totaling $360K, was awarded to 6 employer-led partnerships that will train 105 individuals. The funding uses CARES Act federal dollars to help individuals who have experienced an employment disruption due to the pandemic access jobs in high demand fields including IT and health care. Each partnership is comprised of employers, training providers and the local MassHire Career Center.

Click here to read the press release with more information about the 6 awardees. Click here to learn about how to apply for this funding.
Opening of New MassHire Lowell Young Adult Career Center Announced
On June 24th, the MassHire Lowell Career Center opened a standalone Young Adult Career Center located at 115 Merrimack Street in Lowell. The services at the site will include, work readiness workshops, computer labs, access to snacks, clothing for interviews and HiSet-GED courses provided by Abisi Adult Education staff. The Shriver Job Corps will be located on site, as well as access to the Connecting Activities staff from the Workforce Board to assist high school students with internships and after-school work opportunities.
We moved our News from Around the Sector section to our website, where you can access the news, jobs, funding announcements and more throughout the month. Go to:
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