COVID-19 Special Edition
Dear Members and Partners,

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

We will move our newsletters back to our monthly format going after today. If important issues arise, we will issue special editions of the newsletter to keep you informed.

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 5.14.2020
State COVID-19 Policy Updates:
Executive Orders/Administrative Updates:
  • On Monday, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a four-phase approach to reopening and published mandatory workplace safety standards that will apply across all sectors and industries once the phased reopening begins. The four-phases include:
  • Phase 1 - Start: Limited industries resume operations with severe restrictions;
  • Phase 2 - Cautious: Additional industries resume operations with restrictions and capacity limits
  • Phase 3 - Vigilant: Additional industries resume operations with guidance;
  • Phase 4 - New Normal: Development of vaccine and/or therapy enables resumption of new normal.
  • You can read the orders see additional materials here.

MA Legislature:
  • Yesterday, in the House's second remote formal session, the House voted again (as required constitutionally) to pass H.4677, An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline. Given the state tax filing deadline extension from April until July, this legislation will allow the Treasury to borrow funds as needed through June to meet the Commonwealth's financial obligations. You can read the full text of the bill here. Today the Senate will meet in its first remote formal session and is expected to take up this legislation.
  • Both the House and Senate have now passed H.4672, An Act Addressing COVID-19 Data Collection and Disparities in Treatment. This legislation would require the Department of Public Health to collect and report daily data on COVID-19 testing, testing results, hospitalizations, deaths, and related demographic information including race, gender, and ethnicity. The bill would also create a task force to develop recommendations on how to remove barriers to equitable health care, improve access to personal protective equipment, and boost access to testing and information for underserved populations. Click here to see the full legislation. To date, the House and Senate continue to disagree on various pieces of this legislation and it may be headed to a conference committee to settle any differences.
  • Earlier this week Governor Baker filed H.4707, An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Authorize Certain COVID-19 Spending in Anticipation of Federal Reimbursement. This supplemental budget bill requests $1 billion dollars in funding for spending related to COVID-19 including: purchasing of PPE, rate adjustments for humans service providers, incentive pay for state employees on the front lines, National Guard pay, costs associated with contract tracing, emergency child care for essential workers, and increase costs of local housing authorities. Governor Baker anticipates full federal reimbursement, with zero net cost to the Commonwealth.

Resources for Businesses:
  • On May 7th, the Baker Administration released guidance on reopening for non-healthcare businesses. Click here to download the guidance.
  • The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce updated its reopening policy recommendations yesterday. Click here to read the brief.
  • OSHA recently released a safety alert for restaurant, food and beverage businesses providing curbside pick-up and takeout service. Click here to read more.
  • The SBA has limited applications to for the Emergency
Updated: MWA COVID-19 Business Resource Guide
MWA developed a 2-page resource guide, updated with the latest resources for businesses to reference during the pandemic. This update includes links to reopening resources and the latest information on financial resources that are available. If there are other resources we should include, let Raija know.

Click here for the pdf version.

Click here for a word version you can customize for your 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:
HEROES ACT: Earlier this week House Democrats released their latest COVID-19 response package, the "Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. This Act would appropriate more than $3 trillion in Emergency Funds to various sectors of the economy. The entire 1800+ page bill text can be found  here , a title by title summary  here , sections relating to DOL  here , and sections relating to a contact tracing here .

The legislation proposes to appropriate $2.04 billion to the workforce development system and would relax WIOA eligibility requirements to include all those described as a "covered individual" under the CARES Act. It also proposes that priority of services in local one-stops be given to those directly impacted by COVID-19 economically, including those seeking employment, dislocated workers, individuals with barriers to employment, and individuals who are unemployed or underemployed. MWA is still in the process of evaluating the 1,800+ page bill but below are a few pertinent sections relating to workforce funding, UI, and business relief including:
  • $485 million for grants to States to be used for Adult Employment and Training Activities including:
  • Incumbent Worker Trainings
  • Transitional Jobs 
  • On the Job Training 
  • Individualized Career Services
  • Supportive Services
  • Needs-related Payments
  • Facilitating remote access to training services providing through the one-stop system using technology
  • Available through 6/30/21
  • $518 million for grants to States to be used for Youth Activities including:
  • Supportive Services 
  • Summer Employment for Youth
  • Facilitating remote access to training services providing through the one-stop system using technology
  • Available through 6/30/21
  • $597 million for grants to States for Dislocated Worker Employment and Training Activities Including: 
  • Incumbent Worker Training
  • Transitional Jobs 
  • On the Job Training 
  • Individualized Career Services
  • Supportive Services
  • Needs-related Payments 
  • Facilitating remote access to training services providing through the one-stop system using technology
  • Available through 6/30/21
  • $400 million for the Dislocated Workers Assistance National Reserve: 
  • Available through 9/30/23
  • $25 million for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Programs 
  • $500 million for contract tracing (Sec. 30561, Pg. 515-554):
  • This proposal names local workforce boards as a key eligible partner in preparing a contract tracing workforce. HEROES proposes that of the funds eligible to local boards that 10% be used for administrative costs and 60% must be used for recruitment and training for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, surveillance, containment and mitigation. In addition, 30% of allocated funds must be kept in reserve to support the transition of individuals hired as contract tracers and related positions into education or training program, or un-subsidized employment upon the completion of these positions. 
  • The federal UI boost would also be extended another 6 months through January 31, 2021.
  • Additional changes to the Paycheck Protection Program and another round of direct stimulus payments to individuals.

Additional Funds for Public Housing: Public housing authorities in Massachusetts received a combined $3.6 million in funds from the federal government to maintain operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The emergency funding, authorized by the CARES Act, will go to fifteen Massachusetts communities. Worcester Housing Authority will receive a bulk of the funding at more than $2.7 million. Other authorities receiving aid are Amherst, Athol, Auburn, Bellingham, Bridge of Central Massachusetts, Franklin County Regional, Greenfield, Holden, Leominster, Northampton, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Ware and Webster.

Economic/Employment Research Resources
The initial UI claims release today showed that last week nearly 3M Americans filed claims for unemployment assistance, including more than 44K in Massachusetts. This brings the total to more than 36M nationwide and nearly 822K statewide. Of the 29 states reporting who has filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the total for the prior week was nearly 842K. In Massachusetts, 255K people have filed PUA claims since April 20th, with more than 70K in the prior week. The state press release with more detail by industry, gender and race/ethnicity can be found here under News when it is released.

The National Immigrant Law Center published a brief on shared local and state advocacy for an immigrant-inclusive response to COVID-19. Click here to read more.

Boston Indicators released a new COVID Community Data Lab in partnership with Mass Housing Partnership and the UMass Donahue Institute. They're releasing data and charts on an ongoing basis on equity impacts, housing, transportation, demand for social assistance and more. Click here to view their latest releases.

MassBudget has published two helpful pieces recently: one is an FAQ on the state of child care in Massachusetts during and beyond the pandemic, and one is on the state budget process during the crisis.

Burning Glass recently released a blog post about research suggesting that lifting stay at home orders may not turn around labor demand.

If you've been trying to understand what the April monthly unemployment numbers will and will not be able to tell us, check out this FAQ from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Aspen Institute recently released a Job Quality Tool Library with tools for employers, advocates, policy makers and workforce development practitioners. Click here for more on the library.

The Strada Education Network weekly public opinion survey has been updated. Click here for the latest findings.
MassHire in Southeast MA Launches Manufacturing Partnership Rebrand and Website
The Southeastern Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (SAMC) has simplified its name and acronym (previously SMAMC). The 5 region consortium (including MassHires Bristol, Cape & Islands, Greater Brockton, Greater New Bedford and South Shore) has also launched a dynamic new website with resources for local manufacturers and a link for manufacturers to register as a SAMC partner.

Click here to view the website.
MassHire Central Career Center Staff Assists Shelter Residents During COVID-19
James Harrison, has been working remotely at City of Worcester shelters since COVID-19 closed Career Center doors to the public. He assists shelter residents with work readiness assessments, resume building, job search, referrals, and has even driven a job seeker to an interview.

To read more about James in their newsletter, click here.
MWA Launches New Website
Our new website is live! In addition to news, we'd love to feature your success stories and best practices on our blog. Click the link below to e-mail us a blog post to feature (250-500 words).


  • Recruitment for contact tracing - For those interested in learning more about the Community Tracing Collaborative or who would like to work as a contact tracer, click here to learn more.

  • Funding Update - Commonwealth Corporation updated the release dates for its coming Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund RFP releases, now planned for May and June 2020. Click here for a document detailing each WCTF and Learn to Earn RFP. Click here and then on "Five Sector Based Funding Opportunities..." for the updated website with the summary information and tentative release timeline.

  • On April 20th, the MA legislature signed an eviction and foreclosure moratorium. Click here for a fact sheet describing what this means for renters, homeowners, and small businesses.

  • The MA AFL-CIO submitted a letter with their recommendations on reopening to the Governor's Reopening Advisory Board. Click here to read the letter.

  • The Department of Paid Family and Medical Leave has issued draft regulations for public review and comment. Click here to read the redline copy of the regs and here for the website to check for announcements of public hearings and how to submit comments.

  • NAWB Town Hall: Join the National Association of Workforce Boards and FutureWork Systems for a conversation May 20th on the elements of WIOA performance measures and how COVID-19 will impact performance going forward. Click here for the registration link.

  • Training Opportunity - MassHire DCS is conducting online trainings on how to use WebEx with customers and colleagues over the next several weeks. Click here for the issuance with dates, topics, and a link to register.

  • WorkforceGPS has uploaded the slides and recording from their recent WIOA Youth COVID-19 session. Click here to download (may need to login to your free Workforce GPS account).

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring a Human Resources Director, along with several other positions. 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.

  • Report - DigitalUS recently released a report on Building a Digitally Resilient Workforce. Click here for a summary of the report and to download.
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