Massachusetts Unemployment Guide
Coronavirus Update! -- What Massachusetts Residents Need to Know About Unemployment Benefits
As the coronavirus sweeps across the country, the unemployment rate is skyrocketing in every state. If you have lost your job in Massachusetts, apply for unemployment benefits at the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance. Learn about how unemployment claims relating to COVID-19 will be handled in Massachusetts.
As of the end of July 2020, approximately 30 million people -- one in five workers -- were collecting unemployment. This figure includes the millions of employees who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 and the steps state and local governments have taken to contain it, from orders shutting down nonessential businesses to shelter-in-place restrictions, school closures, and more. It also includes millions of gig workers, contractors, and self-employed people who are collecting unemployment benefits through the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.
If You Are Still Employed: You may be eligible for emergency paid sick leave or paid family leave under a new federal law, the Families First Coronavirus Act. Some states also provide paid time off that may be available to you. See Am I Entitled to Paid Sick Leave, Family Leave, or Vacation Time in Massachusetts to learn more about these programs.
Federal and state governments are rapidly making changes to their unemployment programs, to ensure that more people who are out of work receive benefits more quickly.
Federal CARES Act Expands Benefits to Workers in Massachusetts
Congress has passed a $2 trillion stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ("CARES") Act, which greatly expands the nation's unemployment compensation program. Employees eligible for unemployment in Massachusetts were receiving an additional $600 per week of federally-funded benefits, on top of what Massachusetts already pays. However, these additional benefits expired at the end of July 2020, and Congress is still arguing about whether and how to extend the program. (In August, President Trump signed an executive memorandum to redirect disaster relief money from FEMA to pay for an additional $300 or $400 per week in benefits; learn more about this lost wages assistance program.) And, unemployed individuals who run out of state-funded benefits will receive an additional 13 weeks of benefits, available through December 31, 2020.