MassFiscal Responds to New Unemployment Numbers

Blue-Collar Workers Are Hurting, Should Not Be Ignored

APRIL 23, 2020

Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance made the following statement today in response to Thursday’s release of the latest unemployment figures showing approximately 80,000 Massachusetts residents filed for unemployment last week (April 12 to 18). Nationally, the number has grown to 26 million, 4.4 million last week alone, bringing the total to about one in six workers.

“It’s becoming clear that the economic shutdown is creating two distinct worlds in Massachusetts—a world of white-collar workers who can work from home and a world of blue-collar workers who can’t. For white collar workers, the shutdown is an inconvenience. They continue to work remotely. Their paycheck still comes in. They continue to make their mortgage payments,” noted Paul D. Craney, spokesperson for Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

“The reality for blue-collar workers is very different. It is a world of furloughs and unemployment queues. They are deferring mortgage payments or behind on rent because they are not getting paid. Many blue-collar workers do not even know if they will have a job to return to when this is all over. The state needs to start putting their concerns front and center,” said Craney.

Yesterday, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides reignited angst among working people of Massachusetts by signaling to taxpayers that the Baker/Polito administration is continuing to pursue entering into the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI), despite record unemployment numbers and economic uncertainty across all professions and industries in the state. According to a recent study commissioned by the Fiscal Alliance Foundation and authored by the Beacon Hill Institute, TCI would reduce the size of the state economy, eliminate jobs, and increase the cost of gasoline and diesel fuels. TCI’s economic impact would mostly be felt by working people. To this day, TCI has not disclosed the amount they want to increase the cost of diesel fuels.

“State House leaders have largely been deaf to the economic concerns of the blue-collar workers. The administration adds insult by pursuing economic policies that don’t just ignore them, but will actively hurt them when implemented. It is tone deaf and demoralizing. If the government’s social distancing policies hurt white collar professionals as much as they harmed blue collar jobs, I suspect the state would be having a different type of conversation around safety opening up the economy right now,” concluded Craney.

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