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: UI Relief bill, Infrastructure Talks, New Policy Highlight, and Economic Data
  • MWA Updates: Jobs and Workforce Summit Registration Open, Upcoming MBR Essential Worker Webinar, October MWA Workforce Webinar, Racial Justice Resources, MWA Fall Calendar
  • Member Updates: MassHire Award Finalist Workshops, Member Highlights and Recognition
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates now on our website!
*Please check your Spam or Junk folders if you have signed up and are not receiving our newsletter.*

State Public Policy
State House
Proposal Filed to Address UI Increases

Earlier this summer Governor Baker, in a FY21 close out supplemental budget bill, proposed to spend almost $1.57 billion in surplus tax revenue to lower the unemployment insurance burden employers are facing as a result of the pandemic. The proposal would be a follow up to legislation that was passed in the spring authorizing the state to borrow up to $7 billion from the federal government to replenish the UI trust fund and temporarily avoid huge increases to employers' unemployment insurance bills.

The state ended FY21 with almost a $5 billion surplus. This is in addition to the nearly $5 billion in ARPA funds that have not yet been spent. Governor Baker's proposal would also cancel a planned withdraw of $1.1 billion from the rainy day fund to cover FY21 expenses and deposit another $1.1 billion in capital gains taxes into the rainy day fund. Click here to read the letter Governor Baker filed with this legislation explaining his proposal.

Earlier this week, the Legislature passed a piece of the supplemental budget bill relating to extending COVID related sick time policies but has yet to release a close out bill allocating the excess FY21 revenue.
New Feature: Highlighting Legislation Impacting Employers, Job Seekers, and the MA Workforce System

Each month, MWA will highlight state legislation of interest to the greater workforce development community. Our hope is that readers will not only learn more about pending legislation, but in some instances, be provided with actionable steps to take for those who want to support the proposal and/or learn more. We welcome input and suggestions on this new section of our newsletter. See below for this month's highlight:

H.682, An Act Relative to Teacher Diversity (Sponsored by Rep. Peisch)
This legislation is currently before the Joint Committee on Education and has not yet had a hearing. Fifty-five legislators have cosponsored and MWA's public policy committee voted to endorse this legislation earlier this summer.

Bill Summary: This bill would create a robust pathway for diverse professionals and educators to enter the teaching profession. Specifically the bill would:
  • Establish a pathway for alternative certification to the Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure (MTEL) by 2024
  • Charge the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to establish an Educator Diversity Data Dashboard that creates greater transparency and sets clear targets for the diversification of the educator pipeline
  • Require uniformity across school districts to appoint diversity officers or teams to set the vision for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plans, set measurable goals, and to ensure compliance with all provisions.
  • Establish Educator Diversity Councils to serve as advisory councils to school committees and district leaders to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

To learn more and read the bill in its entirety click here.
August 2021 Unemployment Rate and Claims Data
On September 17th, the state released the unemployment rate for August 2021 and the revised rate for July. Massachusetts' rate increased slightly from July to 5.0 percent, 0.2 of a percentage point below the national rate of 5.2 percent. The MA labor force participation rate was up 0.1 of a percentage point to 65.7 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from the prior year. The labor force increased by 7,900 from July. Since December 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates Massachusetts gained 147,200 jobs. Gains occurred in all sectors except for Government, led by Leisure and Hospitality; Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; and Trade, Transportation and Utilities. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates were released on 9/21 and the local press release can be found here.

Economic Updates
MassBenchmarks released its Notes from the Board late last month, highlighting the increasing uncertainty due to the rise of cases from the Delta variant and its impact on the economy. The National Employment Law Project analyzed 2020 Census data to understand some of the impact of unemployment assistance on households; nearly 4.7M people were kept out of poverty across the country. Click here to reach more. Meanwhile, additional research shows that the cuts to federal unemployment assistance programs lowers annual incomes and consumer spending, as people do not immediately return to work. Lack of child care availability and the increase in COVID cases are still factors holding many workers back.

UI Claims Data
On 9/23 DUA released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 9/18/2021 including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date (although both federal programs ended on 9/4). Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry. Demographic information on PUA claimants is not available, as the program ended September 4th.

Regular UI claims decreased by 380 from the previous week with 6,915 claims filed. All sectors showed small decreases.
  • Continued claims for the week ending 9/18 increased 6,782 to 58,607, due to Massachusetts’ maximum duration going from 26 to 30 weeks and eligible claimants can claim up to 4 additional weeks of state benefits after the federal extension ended. The largest increases were in Food and Accommodation, Health Care and Social Assistance, Retail Trade, Administrative and Waste, and Other Services sectors.
  • PUA continued weeks decreased to 42,410; 141,310 from the previous week. There were 1,209 initial PUA claims filed.
  • PEUC continued weeks claimed decreased 166,219 to 5,904 claims, with 618 initial claims filed.
  • The federal/state Extended Benefits (EB) program triggered off on July 17th. Small numbers of initial and continued claims remain with the program.
Federal Public Policy
Capital Building_ Washington DC
Updates from D.C.

Debt Ceiling, Infrastructure and Reconciliation
It is a very busy week in D.C. Congress is dealing with three important issues, all of which are politically complex and their likelihood of passage changes daily! A few items to pay attention to over the next few hours, days, and weeks:
  • Funding for the federal government expires on September 30th. House Democrats passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government through December 3rd. However, it also included language to increase the debt ceiling, something Congressional Republicans will not support under the Democrat-led Administration. Today Congress must come to a resolution or risk a federal shutdown.
  • This summer the U.S. hit its debt ceiling but the U.S. Treasury has used certain extraordinary measures to meet obligations. However, these measures will no longer work sometime in mid-to-late October. This is going to be a critical issue for Congress to address with no clear consensus or bipartisan agreement yet to raise the debt ceiling.
  • Negotiations over budget reconciliation (a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that is the vehicle to pass a version of President Biden's Build Back Better Plan) have been intensifying. The topline spending level of this bill is likely to be lowered but it is unclear at this point if House Democrats have the votes to get this and the separate $ trillion bipartisan supported infrastructure bill through the House.

We will keep members updated as negotiations proceed. MWA, through the United States Workforce Association, is continuing to advocate for the House Education and Labor Committee portion of the Build Back Better Act to ensure workforce funding remains a key piece of this legislation. See here for our letter to the Labor Committee leadership.
Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Changes
Earlier this month the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced major changes to the COVID Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, a federal disaster relief loan designed to better serve and support small businesses, especially those in hard-hit sectors such as restaurants, gyms, and hotels. Key changes include:
  • Increasing the COVID EIDL from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment, and paying debt.
  • Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period to ensure small business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination so that they can get through the pandemic without having to worry about making ends meet.
  • Establishment of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window to ensure Main Street businesses have additional time to access these funds. The SBA will implement a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less. Approval and disbursement of loans over $500,000 will begin after the 30-day period.
  • Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds to make funds now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
  • Simplification of Affiliation Requirements to ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses. The SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model those of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Click here to read the press release and learn more.
NSC Highlights Worker Stories

The National Skills Coalition (NSC) is featuring workers from across the country who are talking about the impact of job training on their lives. Click here to watch Sonia from Massachusetts talk about her experience at a vocational-technical school and working for a local manufacturing employer.
Join MWA and the Workforce Solutions Group for the 12th Annual MA Jobs and Workforce Summit: Rapid Re-Employment for a Just and Equitable Recovery

Speakers include:
  • Assistant Speaker of the House Congresswoman Katherine Clark
  • MA Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta
  • Executive Director of the Good Jobs Institute Sarah Kalloch
  • Director of the Harvard Project on Workforce Rachel Lipson
  • And more speakers being announced each week!
Mass Business Roundtable Partners on Virtual Event Focused on Latinos and an Equitable Labor Market Recovery
The Massachusetts Business Roundtable is partnering with The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the Executive Office of Labor & Workforce Development, Conexión, and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA) for a virtual event, Friday, October 15th at 12PM. “Essential Today, Essential for the Future” is a webinar that will discuss the contributions of the Latino community during the pandemic and how to create an equitable labor market recovery now and for the future. Speakers include Sec. of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, Governor Baker, and more. Click here to register.
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.
October Workforce Webinar: Growing the Child Care Workforce Pipeline with The Care Institute
Join MWA on Tuesday, October 19th at 3PM for our latest Workforce Webinar Professional Learning Session led by The Care Institute (TCI). TCI has been running a pilot program in Boston in partnership with JVS Boston and Bunker Hill Community College to recruit, train, and place child care workers. They will share what they have learned and plans for taking this model to other communities across Massachusetts. Click here to register.
MWA Updated Calendar of Events for October 2021
We are all looking forward to safely being able to gather in-person. Stay tuned for more information! We will be monitoring public health guidance and will make adjustments as needed. To find out more about our upcoming virtual or in-person events, check out our website here.

  • October 4: Workforce Board Council (hybrid, MWA member exclusive)
  • October 7: MassHire Award Finalists Workshop (virtual): Strategically Working with Businesses (Click here to register.)
  • October 14: MassHire Award Finalists Workshop (virtual): Advancement of Services for Disadvantaged Job Seekers (Click here to register.)
  • October 19: Workforce Webinar with The Care Institute (Click here to register)
  • October 27: 12th Annual Jobs and Workforce Summit (virtual) (Click here to register)
First Statewide Virtual Job Fair Draws Hundreds of Employers and Thousands of Jobseekers
Between August 16-20, the MassHire System with support from the Baker-Administration and Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) held the first ever statewide virtual job fair. EOLWD reported that 17,228 jobseekers registered for the fair, with an 85 percent participation rate -- well above its typical participation rate of about 30 percent for virtual job fairs. The heavily marketed event drew 1,693 employers, and 20,718 resumes were submitted, not counting those sent directly to employers' own portals. Plans for future statewide virtual job fairs are in the works.
2021 MassHire Day Award Finalists Share Best Practices in First Workshop

On September 23rd, Susan Buckey from MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center and Jacqueline Sylvia from MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board shared the expertise that led to their nomination for MassHire Awards for Collaboration and Ingenuity, respectively. Susan shared what they learned while developing effective employer partnerships during the pandemic, and Jacqueline shared best practices for communication strategies.

MWA is celebrating and featuring the winners and finalists of the 2021 MassHire Awards this fall. In addition to blog posts, like this one on the Respect finalists, and social media recognizing their work, we invited finalists to offer virtual workshop sessions to share their great work with the broader workforce community. See below to learn more and register!

Thursday, October 7th, 11AM - 12PM: Strategically Working with Businesses (MassHire Central Mass Career Centers) Click here to register.

Thursday, October 14th, 11AM - 12PM: Advancement of Services for Disadvantaged Job Seekers (MassHire Lowell Career Center) Click here to register.
Congratulations to MWA Member and Executive Director of the MassHire Greater Lowell Workforce Board, Peter Farkas, for being named one of the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce's Distinguished Young Professionals for 2020/2021. Click here to read more about Peter and here to learn more about the awards.
MWA Members Ramona Rivera-Reno of MassHire Holyoke Career Center and Doreen Treacy of MassHire Downtown Boston Career Center participated in a panel discussion with colleagues from NECAT and Bristol Community College at the Working Recovery Symposium, organized by Advocates for Human Potential/Access to Recovery and the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services. The partnership shared the importance of collaborating across systems to support successful training and employment outcomes for customers in recovery. Click here to view the symposium program and here to access recordings of the sessions (you may have to register your email address if you did not previously register).
MassHire Boston Workforce Board/Boston PIC Co-Sponsors Mayoral Forum Focused on Youth and Young Adult Issues
On Thursday, August 19, all five candidates for Mayor of Boston appeared on a campaign forum and spoke on issues including youth voice, alternative education, community college, mental health, career pathways, and high school internships. MWA Member, the PIC, was one of the cosponsors of the forum along with Teen Empowerment, the Boston Opportunity Agenda, and coalitions such as the Opportunity Youth Collaborative, the Youth Transitions Task Force, and Gang Gang Votes, a youth-led civic engagement group.

Click here to view a 5-minute video with highlights from the forum, or here for the full recording.
BusinessWest held a lively discussion on its BusinessTalk podcast with MWA Board Member David Gadaire, President and CEO of MassHire Holyoke. Topics included ongoing labor shortages impacting virtually all businesses in the region, the many different forces behind it, and the outlook for the short term as federal unemployment benefits expire. Click here to listen.
MassHire Greater New Bedford Workforce Board, in partnership with the MassHire Southeast Region 6 Boards, has launched a “Cyber Security Initiative” video interview series developed as a result of extensive labor market analysis that identified a high demand for workers in the field. MWA Board Member and Treasurer, Jim Oliveira, Executive Director of MassHire GNB, conducted interviews with four experts in the field to discuss their careers and provide tips on how individuals can enter the profession. Click here to view the partnership website, including links to the interviews, and here for the press release.
There are so many job postings and funding announcements, so 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:
MWA is on social media! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest workforce news and updates.