BOSTON — In an effort to address the staggering unemployment numbers caused by the coronavirus pandemic, two state legislators are looking to back programs that would offer residents a chance at new jobs.
Last week, stat Sen. Jamie Eldridge, D-Acton, and recently elected 37th Middlesex District Rep. Danillo Sena, D-Acton, filed a bill to establish a Massachusetts Works Progress Administration Program.
According to Eldridge’s office, the program is meant to support proposed programs benefiting unemployed residents and underemployed residents in underprivileged communities. These programs include contact tracing for the coronavirus, climate change resiliency and environmental conservation. The program would also create jobs for projects covering water quality, infrastructure, online education, child care and within the cannabis industry.
“Residents are seeking to get back to work and provide for their families, but the COVID-19 pandemic continues to put a strain on the economy with many folks still jobless,” Eldridge said in a press release. “I believe it is the government’s responsibility to create jobs in an economic downturn, providing paychecks to residents who are able to re-join the job market. I’m proud to file this legislation with Rep. Sena, who is acutely aware of the struggle immigrants are undergoing during this pandemic especially since many immigrant families are still not eligible for unemployment benefits or the federal CARES Act stimulus checks.”
“COVID-19 has been economically disastrous, especially in our immigrant communities and communities of color,” Rep. Sena added. “We must step up to make sure that our neighbors across Massachusetts have the resources they need to provide for themselves and their families during the pandemic and beyond. The Mass WPAP will create jobs for those who need them and help us build a better future for Massachusetts.”
If the bill is approved, the program would operate within the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The program would receive project proposals from state departments and agencies to determine how best to support them.
According to state data, Massachusetts had an unemployment rate of 16.3% as of May. This is the highest that percentage has been in the state since the 1970s.
Prior to his recent election to the House of Representatives, Sena was a member of Eldridge’s Senate staff.