In This Issue:

  • State and Federal Policy Updates: New Legislative Session, Economic Data & Analysis, New Congressional Leaders in D.C.
  • MWA Updates: Workforce Webinar Recap, February Lunch & Learn, 2024 Calendar, Racial Justice Resources
  • Member Updates: Summer Jobs Research, Blackstone Valley Partnership with MassHire Central
  • News From Around the Sector: Jobs, funding, news and updates
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State Public Policy
State House

New Legislative Session Begins

On January 6th, the 2023-2024 legislative session officially began with each chamber electing its leader and swearing in all the Representatives and Senators for the 193rd General Session. As expected, the House reelected Ron Mariano as House Speaker and the Senate reelected Karen Spilka as Senate President. On January 20th, the deadline for filing legislation passed with thousands of bills being filed in both chambers. Over the next few weeks and months, the House and Senate will adopt rules, announce leadership positions and committee assignments, and begin the process of reviewing the thousands of bills assigned to the various subject matter committees.

In addition, the FY24 budget process is also underway. The Healey-Driscoll Administration is expected to file their budget proposal on March 1st. MWA looks forward to working with the Administration and Legislature to ensure strong investments in workforce development in the FY24 budget.

MWA and WSG Sponsors Legislation on Wage Data

MWA was thrilled to work with the Workforce Solutions Group (WSG), Representative Culter, and Senator Jehlen to file legislation to increase access to workforce data: H.D.1421/S.D.954, An act relative to workforce data accessibility. This legislation would ensure timely access to the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) wage data at the regional level to better understand the employment outcomes of individuals served by the publicly funded workforce development system. The bill would only allow access to wage data matched to workforce development participants, not access to all wage data across an entire region. It would also create a task force to address the state's workforce data infrastructure with the goal of creating data systems that can illustrate how workforce, education, and training programs are providing opportunities for sustainable employment in the Commonwealth. You can read the bill here.

Healey-Driscoll Administration Files First Three Bills

Over the past two weeks, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has filed three key pieces of legislation including:

  • H.47, Supplemental FY23 budget bill: This $282M spending bill would direct resources towards emergency shelters and the free school meals program. See here to review the bill.
  • H.51, An Act financing the immediate economic revitalization, community development, and housing needs of the commonwealth: This nearly $1B bond bill includes critical programs that need bonding authority to continue (and were not in the economic development bill passed late last session) including $400M for MassWorks, $100M for housing creation and preservation, funding for broadband, and much more. See here to review the bill.
  • H.52, An Act financing improvements to municipal roads and bridges: This legislation would authorize an additional $400M to fund work to municipal owned roads and bridges under the Chapter 90 program. See here to review the bill.

December 2022 Unemployment and Economic Analysis

On January 20th, the state released the unemployment rate for December 2022 and the revised rate for November 2022. Click here to read the January 20th state press release. Massachusetts' December rate declined 0.1 of a percentage point from November to 3.3 percent, 0.2 of a percentage point lower than the national rate for November. The MA labor force participation rate dropped by 0.2 of a percentage point, to  65.1 percent, down 0.4 of a percentage point from the prior year. The labor force decreased by 7,500 from November. Since the beginning of the pandemic (April 2020), Massachusetts has gained 681,900 jobs. The largest over the year gains occurred in Leisure and Hospitality; Education and Health Services; and Professional, Scientific, and Business Services. Click here to read the state press release. Local unemployment estimates for December were released on 1/24. The most recent local press release can be found here.

Preliminary January 2023 and revised 2022 unemployment rate, labor force, and job estimates will be released on March 10th.

Economic Analysis

The UMass Amherst Donahue Institute and Federal Reserve Bank of Boston released the fourth quarter MassBenchmarks Benchmark Bulletin, showing Massachusetts' GDP increased 3.1 percent annualized, while U.S. GDP increased at 2.9 percent. To read more, click here.

The Boston Globe recently published an article, "These Six Charts Show We've Never Seen a Mass Job Market Quite Like this One." Click here to read this helpful summary of the current labor market. (There may be a paywall to access this article.)

On January 19th, UMDI and the New England Economic Partnership held an event, "Housing, Place, and Flexible Work: The Future of the New England Economy." Economists and local leaders explored the question: How will hybrid work, rising housing costs, and an aging workforce impact New England’s economy? Click here to view the recording and here to view a summary.

The Massachusetts Legislature held its annual revenue hearing on January 24th. The Commissioner of Revenue, several economists, and other local experts testified before the new Secretary of Administration and Finance and the Chairs of Ways and Means. All agreed that it was unlikely that the robust tax collections of the past year would continue going forward. Despite that, estimates for FY24 ranged between $38B and $42B. There were also discussions about how to handle the first year of revenue from the new high-earner surtax that was approved at the ballot in November. Click here to read more, or here for Mass Taxpayers Foundation analysis. Yesterday, the Administration announced it had agreed upon a revenue consensus figure of $40.41B, with an additional $1B in revenue from the new high-earner surtax that can be put towards education or transportation. This FY24 consensus figure represents a 1.6% growth over the latest FY23 estimate, or a 4.1% growth when adding in the projected revenue of the surtax.

Highlighting Legislation Impacting Employers, Job Seekers, and the MA Workforce System

Each month, MWA highlights legislation of interest to the greater workforce development community. We hope to educate readers about pending legislation, and in some instances, provide actionable steps to take for those who want to support the proposal and/or learn more. See below for this month's highlight:

H.D.3377, An Act creating a workforce skills cabinet supporting pathways to success (Rep. Cutler and Rep. Lipper-Garabedian)

Bill Summary: This legislation would put the Workforce Skills Cabinet (WSC) into statute (has always existed by executive order). WSC brings together the Executive Offices of Labor, Education, and Economic Development, in collaboration with industry and workforce development experts, to support a comprehensive economic growth agenda to benefit all corners of the Commonwealth. This bill codifies this essential body in order to continue creating and implementing skills development strategies to meet the varying hiring needs of employers.

Of importance, in addition to the three Secretaries above, this bill would expand the members of the WSC to include: (1) the commissioner of DESE; (2) the commissioner of the department of higher education; (3) the chair of the MassHire State Workforce Board; (4) the executive director of MWA; and (5) three members to be appointed by the Governor representing business or industry; (6) three members to be appointed by the Governor representing labor; and (7) three members to be appointed by the Governor representing workforce development stakeholder groups.

To learn more about this legislation click here.

Federal Public Policy

Updates From D.C.

Earlier this month House Republicans passed the 118th House Rules Package, which includes many of the concessions Speaker McCarthy made to conservative Republicans to win the Speakership. Separate and apart from concessions regarding the rules, McCarthy made promises including leadership positions, committee assignments, and spending cuts to FY22 levels. See here for a summary prepared by the National Association of Workforce Boards on how the rule changes could impact workforce development policy.


We now know that the Chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee will be Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC). You can read her statement on becoming Chair of the Committee here. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) has been named the Chair of the House Labor/HHS/Education Appropriations Subcommittee (workforce development funding is determined in this subcommittee).

DOL Updates


Mass Broadband Institute Shares Digital Equity Agenda

The Mass Broadband Institute, a division of the MassTech Collaborative, led a Workforce Webinar: Promoting Digital Equity, this month, sharing new funding and technical assistance support available to support a number of digital equity strategies, all which have a workforce impact. Michelle Zelen of Mass General Brigham shared their efforts developing Digital Access Coordinators who can help patients navigate the new technologies available to help them schedule and receive services. Josh Lee of Harbor Networks described the demand for a variety of occupations in the broadband and network support fields. Hub66, a local Internet Service Provider, also discussed their work delivering last mile service to areas of the Commonwealth that have not had access to broadband and other internet access, and the types of workers needed to support residents in these communities.

Workforce development will be key to supporting these efforts as they receive increased levels of federal funding. Keep an eye out for more information on our blog coming soon!

February (BYO) Lunch & Learn: Communicating Impact in Workforce Development through Storytelling

Join MWA on Tuesday, February 15th at 12PM for a (BYO) lunch-time peer learning opportunity led by N&R Publications. Elizabeth Morabito and Jeff vonKaenel will share about the work they are doing to help workforce organizations effectively communicate impact through storytelling. Attendees will learn more about storytelling, an age-old and evidence-based practice proven to influence readers' behaviors and beliefs, and ways they can help their organization show value and control the narrative. Click here to register.

Racial Justice in Workforce Development Resources

MWA is following the conversation among the workforce development and related communities about how racism and white supremacy influence the field and practice of workforce development. We will continue to use this newsletter to share relevant tools, articles, webinars and resources to support the workforce development community.

MWA 2023 Calendar

MWA is excited for this coming year and we are still busy planning events and learning opportunities for the workforce development community! Here is our first draft of our annual calendar. You can also keep up with us by checking out the calendar on our website here.

New Research Shows Summer Jobs Boost Youth Graduation Rates

Alicia Sasser-Modestino, Research Director at the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University led a new study looking at the high school graduation rates of students who took part in Boston's summer jobs programs. Her findings showed that students who participated in the program, including working up to 25 hours per week in addition to having 20 hours minimum of job-readiness training, were 4.4 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school than students who did not get a summer job. Increased school attendance was found to be a major contributor to this. The City of Boston, Boston PIC, and ABCD have been strong partners in research efforts like this. Click here to read more.

MassHire Central Region Partnership with Blackstone Valley Chamber and Education Foundation Leads to New Opportunities for Local Youth

Recently, MassHire Central Career Center and Workforce Board (which runs the Connecting Activities program locally) joined the Blackstone Valley Education Foundation to announce the first phase of their NextGen Project, building off of the success of the Blackstone Valley Chamber's Hub, a center for workforce training for high school students and adult learners. Education Foundation Outreach Director, Danielle Wence said of the partnership, "This year the Foundation has gained tremendous momentum with the support of Central MassHire Connective Activities program, regional business partners, and supporting organizations and private community members." Click here to read more.

MassHire Metro North Offers New Workshop

Join MassHire Metro North Career Center for an in-person Orientation Workshop for Foreign-Trained Professionals. In this workshop, attendees will hear from trained experts about how to navigate U.S. systems, meet other new immigrants, and network with immigrant professionals and immigrant-serving agencies in Greater Boston.

Click here to register and learn more.


There are so many job postings and funding announcements, we moved our News from Around the Sector section to our website, where you can access the news, jobs, funding announcements and more anytime throughout the month. Go to:

Here is a sample of the events, funding opportunities, jobs, and more posted on our website:

  • Job Opportunity: Eversource is hiring a Supervisor Equity, Strategic Partnerships, and Workforce Development. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Job Opportunity: Commonwealth Corporation is hiring for many positions, including Vice President of Youth and Social Justice Pathways. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Job Opportunity: The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is hiring a Senior Program Manager for its Workforce Equity Programs and a Program Manager for Workforce Equity Outreach. Click here to learn more and apply.
  • Funding Opportunity: Commonwealth Corporation has re-released the rolling RFP for Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants (a.k.a. Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund grants) with changes to eligibility requirements, max funding amount, and ability to include job quality consideration. Click here for more information. 
  • Funding Opportunity: The Mass Broadband Institute has issued the RFP for the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program. Click here to learn more and apply.
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