COVID-19 Special Edition
Dear Members and Partners,

MWA will be providing twice weekly Workforce Connections updates as our state, our country, and the world reacts to the COVID-19 outbreak.

We want to begin with thanking everyone in the workforce system who is working around the clock to serve customers and keep their staff safe. We are in unprecedented times and together we will get through this.

Be well,

Tonja Mettlach
Raija Vaisanen
COVID-19 Updates 3.24.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates

  • Yesterday, Governor Baker submitted a request to the federal government for a Major Disaster Declaration for Massachusetts. If approved, it would provide Massachusetts with additional federal assistance. Of importance, the disaster declaration also requests FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program including Disaster Unemployment Assistance and Crisis Counseling Assistance to help support residents in need. You can read a copy of the letter here.

  • Governor Baker announced the formation of an advisory group of experts and medical professionals that are advising the administration in responding to the COVID-19 crisis. To learn more about this advisory group, click here.

  • DUA will hold a Spanish Language virtual town hall Saturday, March 28th at 12PM. Click here to find out additional information and register.

  • On March 24, Governor Baker filed an additional piece of COVID-19 related legislation. HD.4974 proposes the following administrative flexibility. Of importance the bill would:
  • Modify the local permitting process in municipalities;
  • Extend municipal tax deadlines;
  • Empower the Commissioner of DESE to delay the April 1st deadline for school districts to submit their first 3-year plan as required by the new Student Opportunity Act; and
  • Allows certain food establishments to sell wine and beer for takeout or delivery.

Resources for Businesses
  • Today Governor Baker, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House announced Massachusetts would delay the income tax filing deadline to July 15th.
  • An FAQ on Governor Baker's Essential Services executive order can be found here.
  • An FAQ on the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act can be found here. The page specifically for businesses can be found here. More on this can be found in our MWA Business Resource Guide linked below.
  • Dept. of Unemployment Assistance FAQ for Employers and FAQ for Workers, and information in Spanish.
  • The federal Small Business Administration issued a declaration of economic injury for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which makes it possible for impacted business owners to obtain low-interest loans. Click here to learn more.
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance continues to release new information on its website. See here for the latest.
  • More on Unemployment Insurance guidance to businesses and workers can be found here
  • Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) has developed an FAQ for employers on its blog.
  • State House News has made its COVID-19 coverage free - you can view coverage here throughout the day.
Updated: MWA develops MA Business Resources Guide in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic
We've developed a one page sheet of resources for businesses during this incredibly difficult time. Included are links to financial supports, unemployment assistance information, links to information about the recent Families First Coronavirus Relief Act paid leave legislation, FAQ's on Governor Baker's essential services executive order and other business association resources. We will continue to update this as we go. Please don't hesitate to contact Raija if there are resources to add.

Click here to download the PDF version.

Click here for a Word version you can customize for your MassHire region.
Commonwealth Launches Text Alert System

Governor Baker announced this week a text alert system for updates regarding the state's response to COVID-19. You can text COVIDMA to 888-777 for periodic texts (they have said they will not send an abundance of messages).
Federal COVID-19 Policy Updates:
  • On early Thursday morning, the U.S. Senate passed a nearly $2 trillion economic stimulus bill. We expect this bill to bepassed by the House later today and be signed by the President. The bill includes (1) significant reforms to Unemployment Insurance, including expanding coverage to many workers who cannot currently file; (2) financial assistance to the health care system; (3) financial assistance to state, local, and tribal governments; (4) funding for both small businesses and industries that have been especially impacted; and (5) direct financial payments for most Americans. You can read a summary of the legislation here. MWA will provide additional details as we digest this large and significant piece of legislation.

  • U.S. Dept. of Labor has announced new guidance on UI flexibilities due to COVID-19 - Under this guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19. Click here to read more.

MWA and other workforce associations from around the country are working on ideas for a national response to unemployment related to COVID-19

Click here to view the draft document and please email Tonja with any additional comments.

Economic/Employment Research Resources
National Employment Law Project (NELP) developed a resource that compares how state's have responded to COVID-19 through unemployment insurance protections. Click here to read the state by state comparison.
Massachusetts DUA Releases Unemployment Initial Claims Data - Between March 15th and March 21st, Massachusetts had more than 147K people file an initial claim for unemployment insurance. To read more about the industry breakdown of the claims, click here.
Economic Policy Institute developed estimates of the projected unemployment impact of COVID-19 by state, using a state's share of leisure, hospitality and retail employment (industries being particularly hard hit). Click here to read their projections of the employment impacts by state.

Earlier this week MassINC. and Blue Cross Blue Shield released the results of a tracking poll on COVID-19 in Massachusetts. The survey reports on initial job losses and impacts of social distancing. You can read the poll here.
  • Good News: Siblings in Shrewsbury raise $1,900 to get protective gear for UMass Memorial Doctors. Click here to read the article.

  • Good News: MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and Career Center were featured in this local news article for their work trying to keep connecting job seekers and employers during the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Health care establishments, pharmacies (like Walgreens, CVS etc.), grocery stores (Stop & Shop, Shaws, etc.), and online retailers like Amazon are hiring in large numbers. Anyone working with a business like these in their region to help source workers, please contact David Muldrew to let him know about your work.

  • EMPath has developed an expansive list of resources in response to COVID-19 that includes links to housing, health care, food assistance resources among others. Click here for the list.

  • Philanthropy Massachusetts has developed a list of disaster and emergency relief resources in response to COVID-19 from across the state. Click here to review the list.

  • Mass Nonprofit Network has developed a list of resources for non-profits across the state in response to COVID-19. Click here to view the regularly updated list.

  • John Hampe of MassHire Metro North Career Center has developed tutorials for home installation of the Amazon WorkSpaces client/Google Voice app for off-site work by MassHire staff in support of the continuity of career center services and workforce business. Click here to view the YouTube videos.

  • Learn to Earn Grantees: Please check out CommCorp's website for updates to changes in grant deliverable timelines due to COVID-19.

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

  • Job Opportunity - Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is posting for a Director of the Career Centers System for the MassHire Metro North Career Center. To learn more and apply online click here.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Holyoke Career Center is hiring a data entry specialist. To learn more and apply, click here.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring a Sr. Program Manager for Youth Development, Salesforce Nonprofit Consultant, Employer and Community Engagement Manager and more. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • 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 and a Youth Program Specialist. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Greater Brockton Career Center is hiring a Career Navigator to support Neighborhood Works Housing Solutions Section 8 voucher recipients develop long-term career paths. Click here to learn more and apply.

  • Job Opportunity - SkillWorks at The Boston Foundation is hiring an Executive Director. Click here to learn more and apply. The Boston Foundation has other openings, as well.

  • Training Opportunity: MDCS trainings on how to use Burning Glass's Labor Insight tool have been moved online to webinars on April 2nd and May 6th. Click here for the issuance and link to register.
MWA is on social media! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest workforce news and updates.