COVID-19 Special Edition
Dear Members and Partners,

Below is this week's special edition of Workforce Connections. Please share these with your staff and encourage them to sign up for the newsletter .

Our thanks continue for all those in the workforce system who are working around the clock to serve customers through these challenging times. Together we will get through this.

Be well,

Tonja Mettlach
Raija Vaisanen
COVID-19 Updates 4.23.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates:

  • New executive order initiatives:
  • Earlier this week, the Baker-Polito Administration officially closed schools for the rest of the school year. Non-emergency child care programs are also closed until June 29th. In addition, they shared additional guidance on remote learning and deferred loan repayments on its no-interest student loan program. Click here for the press release with links to more details.

MA Legislature:
  • Evictions/foreclosures bill: On Monday, Governor Baker signed H.4647 that will effectively pause evictions and foreclosures during the State of Emergency. See a fact sheet on the bill here.

  • Liability protections for health care workers: On Monday, Governor Baker also signed S.2640 which will provide liability protections for health care workers and facilities during the pandemic. This bill will give health care professionals, including those working in the new field hospitals across the state, immunity from lawsuits and civil liability for alleged damages related to COVID-19 if the services were provided in good faith and did not stem from gross negligence, recklessness or an intent to harm or discriminate.

Supreme Judicial Court:
  • Late last week the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reduced the signature gathering requirements for candidates running in 2020. One day after hearing oral arguments, the court issued its ruling which lowers the signature requirements of all candidates seeking to appear on the September 1st primary ballot by 50% to ensure easier access to the ballot for those seeking office. The court also extended the deadline for signature submissions from April 28 to May 5th, and will allow for the use of electronic signatures.

Resources for Businesses:
  • COVID Relief Coalition - Attorney General Maura Healey joined a coalition of law firms, government agencies and non-profits to provide pro-bono legal support for small businesses and non-profits. The Attorney General also developed a $500K grant program for municipalities and regional planning agencies to tap into for their efforts to support local small businesses. Click here for the BBJ article and click here for the website to learn more.
  • MassHire BizWorks has updated their Rapid Response powerpoint with the latest resources for local businesses. Click here for the latest version.
Updated 4.23.2020: MWA Business Resources Guide in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
We've developed a two-sided sheet of resources for businesses during this difficult time. We will continue to update this as new information becomes available. This current update includes information on the COVID Relief Coalition. Please don't hesitate to contact Raija if there are resources to add.

Click here to download the latest PDF version.

Click here for a Word version you can customize for your MassHire region.
The 2020 Census is Here!!
Households around the country are receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census  online , by phone , or via paper questionnaire . Make sure you fill out the census today! Federal, state and local government use the Census to allocate funding to communities for a number of public programs. Everyone counts and everyone should be counted!
Federal COVID-19 Policy Updates:
  • It looks like the House will vote on another $484B COVID-19 relief package soon ("Phase 3.5"), which was passed by the Senate earlier this week. It will include the following:
  • Additional $310 billion authorized for the Paycheck Protection Program ($320B appropriated)
  • $250 billion is a direct ‘plus-up’ to PPP
  • $60 billion is set-aside for community banks
  • $30 billion for loans made by Insured Depository Institutions and Credit Unions that have assets between $10 billion and $50 billion; and
  • $30 billion for loans made by Community Financial Institutions, Small Insured Depository Institutions, and Credit Unions with assets less than $10 billion.
  • Additional $60 billion for SBA Disaster Loan Program
  • $50 Billion for the SBA EIDL Loan Program
  • $10 billion for the Emergency EIDL Grant/Advance; up to $10,000
  • Additional $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers
  • $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests

  • Last week U.S. DOL announced the states that had their COVID-19 emergency applications for the National Dislocated Worker Grant Program approved. The Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development was awarded $6,993,000. Within 60 days MA will have to submit a full budget and implementation plan to ETA. You can view additional information and the full list of grantees here.

  • Earlier this month MWA joined almost 20 states who are part of the United States Workforce Association (USWA) in a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the White House, and DOL. The letter outlines the federal investment the workforce system will need in a subsequent stimulus package. You can view the letter here. In addition, USWA joined with over 30 other national organizations in sending an additional workforce letter which can be viewed here.
March 2020 Initial UI Claims by Workforce Area
Last week, DUA published the preliminary March Initial Unemployment Insurance Claims data by Workforce Development Area (16 regions). The data can be downloaded in a prepared pdf report format by region, and can also be downloaded into an excel spreadsheet format that has additional detail and historical data going back to 2015.

Economic/Employment Research Resources
The initial UI claims release today showed that last week a total of 4.4M Americans filed claims for unemployment assistance, including more than 80K in Massachusetts. This brings the total to nearly 26.5M nationwide and more than 650K in Massachusetts since March 15th. Click here for the Boston Globe article. Click here for the MA press release with data by industry.

The Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University released a report, Suddenly Virtual: Delivering Workforce Services in the COVID-19 Environment, focused on career centers adjusting to virtual service delivery due to the pandemic. They surveyed 160 frontline staff and managers in the public workforce system in seven states and conducted three virtual roundtable discussions with 31 participants. Click here for the report.

Yesterday, the New England Public Policy Center at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston issued an analysis of the economic fallout from the pandemic on the New England states, including job losses, housing affordability and state tax revenue decline. Click here to view the analysis presentation and click here for an online executive summary.

Yesterday, the MA Commission on the Status of Women released a report on the impact of the pandemic on women and girls and related policy recommendations. They conducted a survey of more than 2,500 residents from 250 communities around the state and held a virtual public hearing with more than 100 participants. The concerns they heard about included economic impacts, health issues, domestic violence, essential workers, and incarcerated women. Click here to read the report.

Monday, MassDPH released public health data on COVID-19 in a chartbook/dashboard format. The data includes number of cases and deaths by demographic data and county. Click here to download the dashboard.

BW Research released a brief on A Post-Coronavirus Reality for the World of Work. It includes a macro look at the impact of the pandemic on the labor market and poses some priorities to consider moving forward. Click here to read the brief.

The Center for Health Workforce Studies at the University of Washington recently released a research brief on the respiratory therapist workforce, including practice scope and settings, education and credentialing, and concerns about capacity due to COVID-19. Click here to download the brief.

The Upjohn Institute has collected research related to how shared work programs can ease the economic impact of COVID-19. Click here for more.
MassHire Central Region Highlights Board and Career Center Staff Efforts in the Community
MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and Career Centers recently highlighted their team's volunteer efforts in the local community. Click here to read some of the great stories.
  • Good News - Local schools and colleges have been donating PPE to health care providers. This Boston Globe article highlights several regional vocational technical schools and colleges who have been participating, including Greater Lawrence Tech, Salem State University, Essex North Shore Agricultural and Technical School, Whittier Tech, Assabet Valley Tech, Blue Hills Regional and Minuteman.

  • Resource - John Hampe from the MassHire Metro-North Career Center developed a new YouTube video showing how to develop a career center seminar using WebEx. Click here to view the hour long tutorial.

  • Resource - National Skills Coalition has developed a State Policy COVID-19 Response Toolkit. Click here to read more.

  • Greg Bunn, Director of MassHire Metro South/West, and Jeff Turgeon, Director of MassHire Central Region Workforce Board, were featured on a recent MassMEP podcast discussing manufacturing workforce and hiring needs during COVID-19. Click here to listen.

  • Patricia Crosby, Director of the MassHire Franklin-Hampshire Workforce Board, was featured in a Greenfield Recorder article announcing the search for her successor. Click here to read more.

  • Blood Donations - Those who are healthy, feeling well and eligible to give blood or platelets, are urged to make an appointment to donate as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring an Executive Assistant to the President, along with several other positions. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - The Department of Unemployment Assistance is hiring job service representatives (multiple openings). Click here to read the job description and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is posting for a Director of the Career Centers System for the MassHire Metro North Career Center, in addition to a Program Manager and Assistant Program Manager. For the job postings click here. To learn more and apply online click here.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Springfield Career Center is hiring a Customer Service Specialist. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunities - MassHire Metro North Workforce Board is seeking a Manager of Workforce Systems. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Training Opportunity - MDCS, in partnership with NASWA, is offering several free webinars throughout April on LinkedIn for frontline workforce development staff. Click here for the schedule and links to register.

  • Training Opportunity - MDCS trainings on how to use Burning Glass's Labor Insight tool have been moved online to webinars on May 6th. Click here for the issuance and link to register.

  • Training Opportunity - MDCS is offering a series of webinars on MassHire Reports. The first training is scheduled for Wednesday, April 29th at 1:30PM and is focused on Recently Separated Claimants by Occupational History. Click here for the issuance and here for a link to register.

  • Article - Four human service agencies in Massachusetts asked the Baker-Polito administration for hazard pay and other resources for their workers. Click here to read more.

  • Article - Secretary Rosalin Acosta joins Congresswoman Lori Trahan for online town hall, talking about unprecedented volume of UI claims and new benefits. Click here for the Lowell Sun article.

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