COVID-19 Unemployment Response

COVID-19 Resources

Unemployment Response

COVID-19 Unemployment Response

Upcoming Deadline: Regional Microenterprise Program

On Friday, May 15, the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) released an opportunity for non-entitlement communities to apply for Community Development Block Grant CARES Act funding.

There is $9.65 million available to municipalities to fund microenterprise assistance and public social assistance. Individual communities can receive up to $400,000. The deadline for applications is Friday, June 5.

DHCD is encouraging regional applications and MAPC is willing to work with communities on a regional microenterprise program.

Communities interested in this regional program should contact Chief of Economic Development Betsy Cowan at bcowan@mapc.org by Friday, May 22 at noon at the latest to confirm interest.

Unemployment Response Plans

Where can municipalities get unemployment data? What systems should cities and towns have in place to assist their residents? How can municipalities work with career centers? If an official is contacted by an employer who's hiring, what should they do?

As COVID-19 causes layoffs throughout the state and country, municipalities are hearing from residents concerned about unemployment. Often, they don't have the data necessary to assess the problem at a local level. Many don't have a plan in place to respond to increased unemployment in the community.

Meanwhile, career centers and other local resources often have the information and resources that residents are looking for.

MAPC is partnering with Mass Hire Career Centers to produce  unemployment response plans for Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Revere, and Somerville. The project is funded by DTLA and the City of Somerville.

As the situation changes in real time and municipalities need immediate solutions, MAPC will be providing recommendations and data throughout the planning process. Final action plans will be completed in mid to late May.

As the planning process continues, we hope that our work can act as a template for other municipalities.

More on COVID-19

 

Questions?

MAPC stands ready to assist your community and the region during this time.

If you have questions or would like to work with MAPC on an unemployment response plan, contact Economic Development Manager Betsy Cowan at bcowan@mapc.org.

Response plans will include:

COVID-19 Layoff Reports

Although unemployment information isn't reported at the local level, layoff reports will include rough estimates of local unemployment data.

Hiring Information

Information on what occupations are currently hiring (such as public health departments and grocery stores), with community-specific details of hiring opportunities and information on the safety implications of working in the available positions.

Long-Term Planning

Plans will address short- and long-term workforce development training needs as social distancing measures become less necessary. They'll also provide advice for systems cities and towns can put in place to respond to major unemployment events in the future.

Unemployment Resources

MAPC is currently compiling a list of unemployment resources for our communities. As we learn more about additional programs, we will be sure to include them in this list.  

If you have any additional resources, or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Betsy Cowan, Chief of Economic Development, at bcowan@mapc.org. 

Overview

Unemployment benefits are currently available to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, ready and able to accept work, actively seeking work, and whose past income meets a minimum amount based on a 12-month base period. Expanded unemployment benefits are accessible under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and include the following in addition to state benefits: 

  • A weekly supplemental payment of $600 on top of any state-provided unemployment benefits until July 31, 2020. 
  • An additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits, up to a maximum of 39 weeks, for people who have exhausted their state benefits. 
  • Unemployment benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for independent contractors, gig workers, self-employed individuals, people with limited work histories, and others who may not normally qualify, including those who cannot work or who are partially unemployed due to being ill or quarantined as a result of coronavirus, caring for someone who has coronavirus, or caring for a child whose school is closed due to coronavirus.  
  • Reimbursement to states for the first week of unemployment benefits for individuals living in states where the first week is not normally covered. 
  • A requirement that states consider relaxing the “actively seeking work” requirement for those who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits if their ability to do so is affected by COVID-19.

Unemployment benefits for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: 

  • Standard Benefit Amount: $98 - $823 per week (plus supplements for dependents) 
  • Maximum Duration/Amount of Benefits: 30 weeks (26 weeks when unemployment is low) 
  • Waiting Period: 1 week (waived for workers affected by COVID-19) 
  • State Benefits Related to Coronavirus: Benefits are available to people who have been quarantined due to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are scheduled to return to the same job after the quarantine. Benefits may be available to employees who leave their jobs due to a reasonable fear of exposure to coronavirus. Partial benefits may be available to employees who are working reduced hours due to COVID-19. The work search requirement is not waived except for employees who are scheduled to return to the same job after a quarantine, who must also remain in reasonable contact with the employer. 
State Programs
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