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 4.3.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates

  • DUA continues to hold virtual town halls during the week. These town halls go over how to apply online for UI and staff take live questions from participants. Click here to find out additional information and register.


  • Yesterday, the House passed:
  • H.4615, An Act Providing for a Moratorium on Evictions and Foreclosures During the COVID-19 Emergency. You can view the full text of this legislation here. This legislation would establish a moratorium on most residential and commercial evictions and residential foreclosures during the COVID-19 state of emergency and for 30 days after it ends.
  • H.4616, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts, and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19. You can view the full text of the bill here. This legislation would allow Commissioner Riley the authority to modify or waive MCAS testing requirements for high school seniors.
  • These bills will now move to the Senate for consideration.

  • Also yesterday, the Senate passed S.2618, An Act Providing Additional Support to Those Affected by the Novel Coronavirus Through the Unemployment Insurance System. You can view the full text of the bill here. This legislation would make four changes to the state's UI program by: (1) uncapping the UI dependency allotment; (2) extending the grace period for which nonprofits would have to fund their contributions; (3) ensuring employers don't face increased UI premiums due to COVID-19; and (4) securing a four-week extension of benefits to 30 weeks for workers if unemployment keeps spiking. This bill will now move to the House for consideration.

Resources for Businesses
Updated 3.31.2020: MWA 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. We will continue to update this as we go. This update includes updated info on the Paycheck Protection Program and links to more association resources. 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.
Are you new to using Zoom? Looking for some tips?

We're all living in a more intensely virtual world. Many of you are joining virtual meetings multiple times a day using Zoom, by phone or from your tablet or computer. Zoom provides some free live webinars and also pre-recorded video tutorials to help you get more comfortable with the platform and learn how to use it more effectively. Check out these options below and let us know if you would like more support.
Federal COVID-19 Policy Updates:
  • Earlier this week 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.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor released guidance today for states that deal with the administration of and eligibility criteria for state unemployment insurance programs, including the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) meant to benefit workers who would not typically be eligible for UI, like gig workers. Click here for the guidance document.

  • A summary of the CARES Act by the National Law Review can be found here.

  • NAWB recently released a summary of all three coronavirus response bills. Click here to download.

  • Small businesses, nonprofits, and sole proprietors can begin applying for the Paycheck Protection Program starting today. To learn more click here. At this time, some banks may not be accepting applications until they receive further guidance from the SBA.

  • The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has recently made some changes to its programs in response to COVID-19 including the SNAP food assistance program. In Massachusetts, in response to COVID-19, households that do not currently receive the maximum SNAP benefit will receive emergency SNAP benefits up to the maximum benefit level for the month of April. For more on this, click here.

  • The U.S. Dept. of Education recently announced new flexibilities for career and technical education (CTE) leaders who are required to submit their local CTE plan for FY 2020-2023 You can read more here.

  • U.S. Dept. of Labor Wage and Hour Division will be posting a pre-recorded webinar here on Friday, April 3rd explaining how the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (both parts of the FFCRA) can help employers. A Temporary Rule was issued by the agency on April 1st and can be found here. Posters for workplaces about the FFCRA are available in English and Spanish.

Economic/Employment Research Resources
The state weekly initial unemployment claims were released yesterday. Massachusetts had about 181K new claims last week, 33K more than the previous week or an increase of 22.3%. Nationwide 6.65 million workers filed for unemployment last week. Click here for the state press release detailing the initial claims by industry. Click here for a Boston Globe article about the nationwide data.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston issued a brief this week estimating the impact of the pandemic on service workers and low-wage workers across the New England economy, by state and select metro area. Click here to download the full brief. In addition, Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren offered his analysis of the economic effects of the pandemic and the bank's efforts to stabilize the economy during a virtual meeting of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Read those remarks here.

The Boston Indicators Project of the The Boston Foundation issued an analysis estimating that roughly 1M workers across Massachusetts are in high risk sectors during the pandemic (either risk of joblessness or health and safety risk). Click here for the analysis.

The Economic Policy Institute has updated their state by state estimates of job loss due to the pandemic, based on a state's concentration of hospitality and tourism related employment. They estimate 20 million unemployed by July nationwide, with nearly half a million in Massachusetts. Click here for the analysis.

The Mass Taxpayers Foundation released a brief on their early analysis of the economic impact of the pandemic.

The Migration Policy Institute released a brief last week on the impact of the pandemic on essential workers who are also immigrants. Click here to download for the brief. The National Immigration Law Center also released a brief detailing the impact of the FFRCA and CARES Acts on immigrant workers. Click here for the NILC brief.

The Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program held a discussion on COVID-19 and Unemployment Insurance with the Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project, Rebecca Dixon (to view the conversation, click here). A live Q&A with Rebecca Dixon based on the discussion will be held Friday, April 3rd at 2PM via Zoom. Click here to register for the live Q&A.
  • Good News - The New England Patriots helped Governor Baker get more than a million masks for health care workers in MA, NY and RI. Click here to read the article.

  • Good News - Massachusetts' own Mike Tamasi of AccuRounds in Avon, MA, and a champion for manufacturing statewide, is on the latest National Skills Coalition podcast talking about the manufacturing sector's response to COVID-19. Check it out here.

  • Here is a tool developed to help people assess their unemployment eligibility quickly by state. Click here to check it out.

  • Attorney General Maura Healey continues to update her office's website with resources on employee rights, how to avoid coronavirus related scams, and more. Click here for resources. Her office is also holding a series of Community Engagement webinars. Click here to view the schedule and register.

  • Commonwealth Corporation is regularly updating a resource document in response to COVID-19 for a variety of audiences including workers, businesses, those seeking educational resources for youth, mental health resources, and more. Click here to download the latest updated document.

  • The MA Department of Veterans Services, MA National Guard and the state's COVID-19 Response Command Team have launched the COVID-19 MA Millitary Family Relief Fund. Click here to learn more.

  • John Hampe of MassHire Metro North Career Center has shared a webinar he developed for orienting staff to WebEx called "Have Fun with It!" The tutorial helps staff learn how to use the platform for setting up career center seminars. Click here to view the video.

  • Funding Available: **Please note many of these deadlines are in the process of being extended. Please contact each agency or check their websites for the most up to date information.**
  • Commonwealth Corporation FY20 Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund Grants, proposals due May 11th (extended from previous deadline of April 9th).
  • Please note that other solicitations through WCTF and Learn to Earn are likely not to be released until mid-April at the earliest, with awards not being made sooner than the beginning of FY21 (July 2020).
  • Mass Clean Energy Center 2020 Offshore Wind Workforce Training and Development, proposals due May 8th (extended beyond prior due date of April 17th).
  • *NEW*: The MA Clean Energy Center is holding a webinar on April 15th at 2PM on offshore wind workforce development in Massachusetts. BW Research will present preliminary research and analysis of regional offshore wind workforce strengths, an overview of existing regional training programs, and detailed work activities for offshore wind development, including occupational roles, offshore wind career pathways, and best practices for offshore wind workforce development. Click here to register. A recording of the webinar will be available following for those who cannot attend live here.

  • 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 Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring Employer Outreach Specialists, a Sr. Program Manager for Youth Development, Salesforce Nonprofit Consultant, and a Coach for Competency Based Education Coaching Services. 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.

  • 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.

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