Welcome to the Massachusetts Workforce Association's monthly newsletter: Workforce Connections! Look for this publication in your inbox each month and share with your staff and others.

In This Issue:
  • State and Federal Policy Updates: Budget, COVID-19 Legislation, Police Reform Bills
  • MWA Updates: New Member Benefit, Racial Equity in Workforce Development, New Profit Grant Challenge, NEWN Conference RFP
  • Member Updates: MassHire Awards, MassHire Central Virtual Job Fair Success, Dave Cruise Interviewed by BusinessWest, Metro North STEM Network Website
  • News From Around the Sector - Jobs, Funding, Research, Training, and more
State Policy Updates
Community Development Block Grant Funding Announced

Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $19.6M in Community Development Block Grant Funding (CDBG) allocated through funding received in the CARES Act.

The funding will go to local governments and regional consortia to fund social services, including homelessness prevention, food assistance, and job training for in-demand health care workers and technicians.

You can read more here.
FY21 Interim Budget

On June 26th, Governor Baker signed into law an interim budget for FY21, H.4806 . This bill, a 1/12 budget for FY21, does three things: (1) appropriates $5.25 billion to maintain all necessary services through July 31, 2020; (2) allows the advancement of local aid payments to any city, town, regional school district, or independent agricultural and technical school; and (3) extends capital accounts that would otherwise expire.

We are still waiting for the House to release its spending plan and additional information on funding levels for FY21.
State COVID Legislation

Over the past several weeks, the Legislature has passed three additional pieces of legislation in response to COVID-19 :

Visit MWA's new state COVID-19 legislation page to view detailed summaries and full text of these bills.

Joint Committee Moves Economic Development Bill Forward

On June 26th, the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies held a virtual hearing on Governor Baker’s 2020 economic development bill,  H.4529 . This legislation was originally filed in March before the COVID-19 pandemic. You can view a summary and the text of the original legislation  here .

At the hearing, Secretary Kennealy previewed a series of changes the administration is seeking to make to the bill including: proposing a $275 million COVID-19 recovery package as an update to the original $240 million bill, with targeted investments in three buckets: housing, community development, and business competitiveness. Note, funding included in the proposed legislation is only for bonding authority.  

MWA submitted written testimony to the Committee, asking for their support for key workforce development line items and programs. The letter included an example of how one region, MassHire North Shore, is responding to the pandemic in their community and continuing to deliver services virtually. You can read the full letter here .

On Monday, July 13th, the Committee reported out the bill favorably with amendments. Click here to visit our blog and read more about the updated legislation.

Senate Passes the Reform, Shift and Build Act

In the early hours of July 14th, and after days of delays and debate, the Senate passed the Reform, Shift and Build Act, S.2800, which focuses on a number of law enforcement reforms including:
  • Banning choke holds and other deadly uses of force except in cases of imminent harm.
  • Reforming qualified immunity doctrines for excessive use of force.
  • Creating a new Police Officer Standards and Accreditation Committee to standardize certification and discipline of rogue officers.
  • Expanding community-based and non-police solutions to crisis response and jail diversion.
  • New training requirements on de-escalation and the history of racism.
  • Banning racial profiling.

The bill has moved to the House who held a public hearing on July 17th and released its version of the legislation on July 19th. The House plans to take up the bill this week. MWA joined our colleagues in the Workforce Solutions Group in signing on to a letter addressing the need for additional expungement reform for youth. You can read the letter here.
Black Mass Coalition Develops Blueprint for Organizations Committed to Racial Equity
The Black Economic Council of Massachusetts convened a group of leaders from across a variety of organizations in early in June to develop a list of concrete and actionable goals for the private sector, non-profits, philanthropy and government to commit to in working toward a more equitable and just Commonwealth. The Black Mass Coalition Blueprint for the New World gives detailed targets ranging from new financial investments to policy changes for these institutions in Massachusetts to consider.

To read the Blueprint and learn more about the coalition, click here.
June Jobs Release and New Unemployment Claims Data Released
On July 17th, the state released the jobs numbers for June 2020, showing another historically high seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 17.4 percent for the state, the highest rate in the nation, and 6.3 percentage points higher than the national rate of 11.1 percent. For the latest monthly state unemployment rate press release for June 2020 click here. For the June 2020 unemployment rate state by state comparison release, click here. June 2020 local unemployment rate data will be released on July 23rd.

The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently updated and released initial UI claim and continued claim data by city/town, industry, occupation, gender, race and ethnicity. Data are for claims (those who applied for unemployment assistance due to being on temporary furlough or permanent separation) from 3/21/20202 through 6/30/2020. These data don't include PUA (those who were self-employed or gig workers) or PEUC filers (those filing for an extension of unemployment benefits because they have exhausted or expired their regular benefits). Click here for the initial claim Tableau tables. Click here for the continued claim data Tableau tables.

Last week DUA also released the most recent initial claims for the week ending 7/11/2020, including the number of PUA and PEUC claims filed to date.
  • Since March 15th, nearly 1,107,650K people filed for unemployment in Massachusetts.
  • Since April 20th, more than 664K people filed for PUA.
  • Since May 21st, more than 70K people filed for PEUC.

Click here for the state press release which includes charts of initial and continued claims by demographic characteristics and industry. For the national initial claims release for the week ending 7/11/2020, click here.
Federal Policy Updates
FY21 House Labor, HHS Appropriations Bill

The House Labor, HHS Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the Fiscal Year FY2021 spending bill in early July. See here for a brief comparison of the FY20 enacted levels with this House bill. It includes a modest increase from year-to-year.
This is the initial step in a multi-step process and serves as the House ‘marker’ in any potential negotiations. Our colleagues in D.C. expect at least one, with likely more, Continuing Resolutions (CR) to temporarily fund the federal government before a budget is passed.

On a separate note, the Senate is expected to unveil its proposed COVID relief package this week. This is timely as local and state governments face huge budget shortfalls and federal pandemic unemployment compensation (FPUC) is set to expire at the end of this week.

On July 2nd the Senate passed and on July 9th the House passed S.4209 , improving how the CARES Act forgiveness will be provided to employers that self-insure for unemployment insurance. Specifically, the bill corrects the Department of Labor's interpretation  that self-insured employers must pay their states 100% of unemployment claims upfront and then wait to get reimbursed 50% at a later date.

Once signed into law, this bill will direct state agencies to simply charge reimbursing nonprofits for 50% of their owed claims, instead of issuing a full charge and partial reimbursement.
Federal Government Allows use of TANF, SNAP E&T, WIOA Funds to Support Digital Inclusion
The National Skills Coalition has outlined new guidance aimed to help skills advocates improve digital access and equity for adult learners and workers. In particular, they highlight several federal agencies that have clarified how existing policies can be used to remedy technology gaps faced by many jobseekers and workers.

Click here to read the article.
New MWA Member Benefit: Workforce Webinars
MWA Launches New Professional Learning Webinars for Members
MWA kicked off a new benefit for members on July 13th, Workforce Webinars: Professional Learning Sessions, with the first session focused on pay-for-performance program models. In the first session members heard from Third Sector, who highlighted best practices for implementing outcome-based program models, including continuous process improvement, root cause analysis, and how to deal with concerns related to outcomes-oriented contracting. This webinar also included share-outs from a recent learning community Third Sector helped led on this topic with several MassHire Workforce Boards and Career Centers earlier this spring.

MWA Members: Keep an eye out for registration invitations for upcoming Workforce Webinars in September (Managing Performance of Remote Workers with EANE) and October (Polling Research Related to Workforce and the Economy with MassINC Polling Group). For non-members interested in learning more about the benefits of MWA membership, click here.
Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources
Future of Work Grand Challenge Announced with $6M in Prizes
New Profit, Solve MIT and XPrize recently announced a $6M future of work grand challenge to rapidly reskill 25K displaced workers into higher wage jobs in the next 2 years, equip influential workforce boards with stronger tools to support displaced workers in the next six months, and achieve broader systemic change to help prepare 12M Americans from underinvested communities for workforce success by 2025. They are also committing to supporting at least 40% Black, Indigenous and Latinx innovators and entrepreneurs.

Click here to learn more.
New England Workforce Network Solicits Proposals for 2021 Conference
NEWN is accepting proposals for their next conference, March 19, 2021, at Holyoke Community College. The theme for the conference is Fast Forward: Innovative Workforce Development in Changing Times. The deadline for proposals is September 18th. This could be a great opportunity to showcase your expertise in the field with colleagues from across the New England region.

New Labor Market Research Resources
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta developed a data visualization called the Unemployment Claims Monitor, offering a dynamic state by state comparison of initial and continued claims by gender, age, race, ethnicity and industry. Click here to view.
  • The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development has developed data visualizations in Tableau for jobs postings and other labor market indicators. Click here for these Tableau visualizations, some of which are based on the initial UI claims data referenced above. Click here for a resource guide on how to use some of these tables.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta developed the Opportunity Occupations Monitor to display opportunity employment (jobs that do not require a BA, but have wages greater than the national median wage) and its prevalence across labor markets. Click here to view the data visualization.
2020 MassHire Awards Ceremony July 23rd
This year's award ceremony will be held virtually on July 23rd at 10AM. Winners will be announced from among 12 MassHire organizations whose nominations were recognized as finalists along the core MassHire values of collaboration, respect, reliability, ingenuity and 'Living MassHire.' Workshops featuring the finalists will be held over the next few months and announced at the ceremony. Keep an eye on your inbox for dates and registration details.

Click here to register for the July 23rd Award Ceremony.
BusinessWest Interviews MassHire Hampden President and CEO David Cruise for New Podcast
BusinessWest has launched a new podcast called BusinessTalk. On July 8th, they spoke with David Cruise about how MassHire Hampden County Workforce Board is handling historic levels of unemployment in the region caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to listen.
MassHire Central Region Finds Virtual Job Fair Popular Among Job Seekers and Businesses
Thirty-four employers from healthcare, hospitality and retail joined 100 job seekers in the first-ever Virtual Job Fair held June 4th by the MassHire Central Region Career Center. The event was free for job seekers and employers. More than 250 applications were submitted, an average of seven applications per employer.
One job seeker commented, "Thanks to everyone for their hard work and professionalism on this event." Debra Olson of the  Center for Working & Living   said, "MassHire made it easy for employers; I would definitely participate again. Thanks for your efforts!"
Metro North STEM Network Launches New Website

The Metro North STEM Network (MNSN) invites you to visit its new webpage. Housed at the MassHire Metro North Workforce Board , and through annual grant funding from the Baker-Polito Administration and the STEM Advisory Council, MNSN advances Massachusetts’ STEM initiatives, organizes STEM Week in the region, and much more. 

MNSN is a regional hub for connecting academic, government, non-government, and community stakeholders in the pursuit of STEM/STEAM goals. 

Among their aims, they strive to become a more just, equitable, and inclusive Network. MNSN prioritizes equity and inclusion of Black and Brown people, and other groups that have been historically marginalized in STEM.  

Please visit the Metro North STEM Network Page to learn more about the network, and explore teacher, student, and family resources. Click here to find ways to get involved!
  • Recruitment for Long Term Care Facilities - Click here to learn more about the 20,000 positions currently open throughout the Commonwealth and the free training, increased pay, and other benefits of providing support to elders during this time.

  • Job Opportunities - Commonwealth Corporation is hiring two Employer Outreach Specialists. Click here to view the postings and to apply.

  • Job Opportunity - MassHire Franklin Hampshire Workforce Board is looking for a new Executive Director. Click here to view the posting and a link to apply.

  • Funding Available - The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of $4.1M in funds to support women's participation in apprenticeships and non-traditional occupations. Click here for the press release and here for an FAQ on the funding with a link to apply.

  • Webinar - MDCS held a webinar on TORQ in June. Click here to view the recording on YouTube.

  • Webinar - The MA Office of Business Development will be holding a webinar on July 30th at 10AM about the MA Vacant Storefront Program, a program that municipalities can access to revitalize their downtown and commercial areas. Click here for more information and a link to register.

  • Webinar Training - NYATEP and Level-Up NY is hosting Strategies for Working with Youth: Why Work Experiences are Important, August 4th 12PM. Click here to register for free.

  • Webinar - MassINC and MassINC Polling Group will share the results from a recent survey of small businesses answering the question, "Can small businesses survive COVID-19?" Small Business Needs for an Equitable Recovery: Probing New Public Opinion Data for an Informed Response will take place on July 23rd at 11AM. Click here for more information and to register.

  • Racial Justice Trainings - Race Forward is offering several online trainings on building racial equity. Click here for links to register for upcoming sessions.

  • Webinar Recording - Third Sector and the San Diego Workforce Partnership held a webinar on job quality in early June. To view the recording, click here.

  • Research - Care that Works and Community Labor United have a released a report on Six Proposals for Child Care Equity and a Just Recovery. Click here to read the report.

  • Research - Opportunity America recently released a report on The Indispensable Institution: Reimagining Community College. Click here for the report.

  • Research - The Center for Labor Markets and Policy recently released their latest report on teen summer employment. Click here for the report.

  • Research - A new report released by the Association for Public and Land-grant Universities outlines several employability skills that college graduates are missing. Read the Inside Higher Ed article about the report, with a link to the report, here.

  • Research - The Federal Reserve Banks of Cleveland and Philadelphia have released a report that finds that 49% of low wage jobs can be matched with at least one higher wage occupation that requires similar skills. Click here for the report.

  • Guidance on Reopening for Non-Essential Businesses - OSHA released guidance on reopening for non-essential businesses. Click here for the guidance.

  • News - U.S. Department of Labor released funding for apprenticeship expansion, with MA receiving $3.45M. Click here to read the press release.

  • News - Commonwealth Magazine reports on MassBudget's analysis on the effect of COVID-19 on undocumented workers' health, pay and employment. Click here for the article with a link to the report.
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