COVID-19 Special Edition
Dear Members and Partners,

MWA has been providing twice weekly Workforce Connections updates as our state, our country, and the world began responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Starting next week, we will move to one newsletter per week, issued on Thursdays. 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 4.10.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates
  • Yesterday, Governor Baker announced updates in implementing the unemployment provisions of the CARES Act.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: DUA expects to accept claims from non-traditional claimants, like the self-employed, starting on or around April 30th. DUA states that payment under PUA will be retroactive to February 2, 2020 or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later.
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: DUA will be adding the $600 from the FPUC to the weekly benefits of traditional claimants currently receiving benefits retroactive to March 29, 2020 and until July 31, 2020. Those who are not currently receiving benefits will receive the additional payments retroactive to March 29th once their claims are processed and determined eligible. Those already receiving benefits do not have to take any additional actions.
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation: DUA is awaiting additional federal guidance on how to implement and administer this program and the extended weeks of PEUC benefits are not yet available. The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29, 2020, and the last payable week is the week ending December 26, 2020. Check back here for updates to these programs. 
  • Governor Baker announced that they are working on a mobile-friendly Spanish-only application for submitting UI claims. Currently, they have issued this website with detailed answers on applying for UI in Spanish.

  • This week the Governor announced three new orders which aim to support the Commonwealth’s healthcare workforce:
  • First Order: Eases licensing restrictions for foreign-educated doctors. See a copy of the order here.
  • Second Order: Expedites licensing of nursing students and graduates. See a copy of the order here.
  • Third Order: Mandates all insurers cover any medically required costs of COVID-19 treatment in out-of-network hospitals or other medical facilities with no charge to patients. See a copy of the order here.

  • Earlier this week Governor Baker filed S.2630, An Act to Provide Liability Protections for Health Care Workers and Facilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This legislation would provide civil liability protection to health care workers and facilities while they are on the front lines fighting the pandemic. Click here to view the bill and here to view the filing letter.
  • Yesterday, the House and Senate agreed upon changes to H.4616, An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State Authorities Resulting from COVID-19. The final bill which has been sent to the Governor would:
  • Amend budget deadlines for the MBTA;
  • Increase spending flexibility for important housing related line items (RAFT and MRVP programs);
  • Allow DESE to modify or waive high school graduation competency requirements, require DESE to waive MCAS requirements for this year, and permit DESE to certify a one-twelfth budget for school districts; and
  • Require the commissioner of DESE to extend districts' deadline to submit their three-year plans to address education disparities.
  • The House and Senate did not come to an agreement on the separate evictions and foreclosures moratorium bills both chambers have passed (H.4615 and S.2631). A conference committee was appointed to settle the differences and the members include: Senators Crighton, Rodrigues, and Tarr and Representatives Honan, Michlewitz, and Durant.

Resources for Businesses
  • The Economic Analysis and Research Network held a webinar on April 7th that went into detail about the federal provisions for paid sick time and paid family and medical leave in the recent COVID-19 bills that were passed. Click here to view the zoom recording and here for the powerpoint slides.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank announced a number of measures it is undertaking to support the liquidity of the Paycheck Protection Program and ensuring credit flows for Main Street Lending loans and other commercial and household credit programs. They are also supporting easing lending to states and municipalities. More coverage of this announcement is in the articles below:
  • Fed Treads Cautiously into Muni Market with Loan Lifeline (Bloomberg)
  • Can the Fed Save the Municipal Bond Market? (Forbes)
  • Fed Creates Muni Facility to Buy Short-Term Debt (The Bond Buyer)
  • MassHire BizWorks is regularly updating a powerpoint resource for businesses that includes contact information for their regional staff who can help businesses with WorkShare, layoff aversion and other opportunities. Click here for the latest powerpoint, and go here for more information (updated ppts can be found at the bottom of the page under "Additional Resources").
Updated 4.7.2020: 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. 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:
  • This week U.S. Senate Democrats released a proposal for a COVID-19 Heroes Fund. This fund would provide pandemic premium pay to reward, retrain, and recruit essential workers. You can view the proposal here. In addition, over 35 U.S. Senate Democrats joined together in a letter to Secretary Scalia requesting that DOL provide better support and allow for more flexibility to help state's with their UI programs. You can view the letter here. Both Senator Markey and Senator Warren from MA signed on to the letter.

  • The Small Business Administration released an FAQ for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) included in the federal CARES Act. Click here for additional information.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has released guidance 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 the self-employed or gig workers. Click here for the guidance document and click here for the press release. They also released guidance on related to administration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program. Click here for the press release and click here for the guidance document.

  • The U.S. Department of Labor has a website devoted to information on unemployment insurance relief during COVID-19. Click here.

  • The White House has extended its deadline for participation in its online dialogue about expanding family and medical leave to employees affected by COVID-19. Comments are now due by April 10th. Click here to submit ideas and comments and to add your support to those previously submitted.

  • Last 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.

Economic/Employment Research Resources
Initial Unemployment Claims for the previous week in Massachusetts were announced yesterday. In MA, nearly 140K people filed claims between March 29 and April 4. This was a 23% decrease over the previous week. Since March 15 total initial claims are 468,477. DUA is currently paying claims for more than 250K claimants. DUA has increased customer service staff from 50 to over 600. For the nation, another 6.6M people filed for unemployment last week. Click here for the NYT article.

The Center for Economic Policy and Research issued a demographic analysis of frontline essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic for the nation and individual states. The numbers for Massachusetts mirror some of the national story. Their relatively conservative analysis (it leaves out some public sector and other workers we know are considered essential), finds:
  • About 22.3% of all workers in Massachusetts are essential frontline workers.
  • These workers are predominantly female.
  • More than 1 in 5 are foreign-born.
  • 60% have less than a Bachelor's degree.
  • More than 1 in 5 live below 200% of the poverty line.
  • 36% are over age 50.

The State Economic Development Executives Network has developed a comprehensive list of responses to the coronavirus outbreak by state and topic, including job matching, economic impact, manufacturing PPE, and access to finance. They are also advertising relevant webinars. Click here to find more.

The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis did an analysis of the workers most at risk of joblessness due to the pandemic. Click here to read the brief blog post.

Strada Education Network is doing a weekly survey of Americans' responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on their lives, their work and their needs for education and training. The latest survey results show 61% of Americans have lost jobs, income or work hours during the crisis.

  • Good News - Dress for Success Western MA Common Threads Event will go virtual April 16th. Click here to read more and register.

  • MassHire Greater Brockton Career Center shared this great video about the importance of the MassHire system's work helping people succeed after crises like the current pandemic. Click here to view the YouTube video and share!

  • Mass Legal Services has developed some resources to describe the new unemployment policies here (translated into Spanish, as well). Their broader list of COVID-19 related resources can be found here.

  • The National Employment Law Project developed this summary of the UI provisions of the CARES Act.

  • COVID-19 Hiring - Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders announced a new website that will be posting jobs at COVID-19 temporary care sites. Click here to view.

  • Resource - Lt. Governor Polito announced resources for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. SafeLink, the Commonwealth's statewide, 24/7 toll-free and confidential domestic violence hotline, has been expanded to include resources and support for survivors of sexual assault. The SafeLink toll-free number is (877) 785-2020. For the hearing-impaired, the SafeLink TTY number is (877) 521-2601. Advocates are available in English and Spanish and can provide translation in more than 130 languages.

  • Resource - The U.S. Conference of Mayors Workforce Development Council has developed a website of COVID-19 resources by state. Click here to view the state-by-state resource.

  • Resource - Family Values at Work has created a tool to help you understand your rights for paid sick time and paid family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Click here for resources and a brief questionnaire to find out more information.

  • Resource - The National Employment Law Project has created a list of health and safety resources for workers who need to work during the pandemic. Click here to read more about worker rights and resources.

  • Mass Nonprofit Network and their affiliates are holding a series of free webinars on various topics related to non-profit responses to COVID-19. Click here for a regularly updated sheet to learn what is available and register. Click here for MNN's COVID resources.

  • 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, 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.

  • The Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunity Program is holding a webinar on Tuesday, April 21st in its Job Quality in Practice series called "Worker Organizations Respond to the COVID-19 Crisis." Click here for more and to register.

  • Opinion - Jobs for the Future argues that we must sustain apprenticeship models after the pandemic downturn. Click here to read more.

  • Article - National Skills Coalition argues that we need to pay attention to the health, safety and economic security of frontline workers during the pandemic. Click here to read more.

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