Unemployment is at a historic high in Massachusetts.
For the moment, a $600 supplement added to unemployment payments is softening some of the financial blow for those receiving benefits. But the supplement – and the relief it provided – is due to expire, with the relevant portions of the federal CARES Act that funded it, on July 30. This loss of benefits, combined with the August 18 end of the state’s eviction moratorium will put many households at risk of eviction.
An MAPC analysis shows that virtually no community in Massachusetts will be exempt from significant need for housing assistance when the CARES Act supplements and the eviction moratorium are history in August.
This analysis is the latest in a series of MAPC reports on the statewide housing security implications of widespread layoffs. Previous reports are here and here. Since the most recent update, published on May 13, we were able to obtain information from the Department of Unemployment Assistance about the number of continuing unemployment claims – by municipality – as of May 2. Continuing claims, or workers that have been collecting benefits for at least two weeks, show a clearer picture of current unemployment as they do not include workers who may have been laid off but since returned to work.
This map shows an estimate of the housing assistance that will be needed in each municipality in Massachusetts after the CARES Act expanded unemployment benefits end. Total need is influenced primarily by four factors: the municipality’s population, its unemployment rate, its cost of housing, and the wages of its workers before COVID-related layoffs. It is no surprise that the three largest cities in the state, Boston, Worcester, and Springfield, have some of the largest total need in housing assistance. Other cities, such as Quincy, Lynn, and Lawrence rise to the top of the list due to a combination of their large population, housing costs, and unemployment rates. Some smaller communities such as Phillipston, Petersham, and Gosnold have the highest ratio of unemployment claims compared to their total population. While their total dollar value of assistance may be small, the need compared to the size of the community is quite large. We also see some communities such as Dover, Sherborn, Wellesley, and Weston who, likely due to the high cost of housing, rank highest among the average dollar amount needed per household in need of assistance (around $1,500 in assistance monthly).
In addition to the map on this page, we have included a data download that provides more information for each municipality. This information includes the estimated number of residents on unemployment assistance by occupation; estimated total households in need of assistance; the average dollar amount of assistance needed per household; and the total amount of assistance needed, both for all residents and specifically for renter households. The estimates are based on the methods used in our prior statewide analysis, which can be viewed here. We plan to update this analysis as updated data by municipality becomes available.
We should note that this analysis does not include the nearly 600,000 workers who have filed for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program, which serves self-employed workers. Nor does it include those ineligible for unemployment insurance, primarily workers without documents. This may mean that we have underestimated the amount of assistance that will be needed. Our work is based on the 512,851 workers collecting insurance across the state on May 2, so our numbers don’t reflect changes since that time. We also cannot know number of continuing claims that will still exist in August, especially as the state starts to slowly open parts of the economy. However, we hope these estimates are still valuable for those coordinating COVID-19 responses to plan ahead.
Reach out to Sarah Philbrick at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information