Today | Labor officials on Friday release the Massachusetts unemployment rate and jobs data for January as well as revised data for calendar year 2021.
Today | Gov. Charlie Baker returns from a family vacation in Utah.
10 a.m. | Joint Ways and Means Committees holds another hearing on Gov. Baker’s $45.8 billion annual budget proposal with a focus on spending on energy, the environment and transportation.
11 a.m. | Sen. Paul Feeney joins Sen. Eric Lesser outside Morin’s Hometown Bar & Grille in Attleboro to announce his endorsement of Lesser’s campaign for lieutenant governor.
12 p.m. | Mass. Municipal Association holds third in a series of spring legislative briefings, this one for Worcester and Norfolk counties.
Good Friday morning.
Labor officials are slated to release new unemployment and jobs data for January today as well as revised figures for 2021.
The economic report comes as average gas prices in Massachusetts climbed above $4.36 per gallon and state lawmakers, as well as Gov. Charlie Baker, are all talking about tax relief. In the past year, inflation has jumped 7.9 percent, reports Associated Press’s Christopher Rugaber, as a result of rising gas, food, and housing costs. It’s the sharpest increase since 1982 and is foreshadowing even more price increases in the future.
The last time gas prices spiked even close to this high was in July 2008 as the country was on the cusp of a major recession, unemployment was on the rise and the mortgage crisis was just a few months away.
So as we wait for the latest jobs report, here’s how the numbers stack up then and now:
– On March 10, 2008, a gallon of gas was $3.08, according to federal data. The cost would jump to $4.06 on July 7, 2008, before plummeting through December to $1.63. Today, gas prices sit at an all time high, and have climbed 25 percent in the last month.
– At the start of 2008, Massachusetts was reporting a 4.5 percent unemployment rate. As months passed (and gas prices too), the rate increased to 4.6 percent in March, 5.3 percent in July, and 6.7 percent by December of that year.
– The most recent jobs report (December 2021) for Massachusetts pegged the unemployment rate at 3.5 percent. That’s down from 4.6 percent in November 2021.
State says COVID deaths have been overcounted
The total number of COVID-19 deaths in the state will decline as a result of a new counting method the Department of Public Health unveiled Thursday. Boston Globe’s Kay Lazar reports 3,700 deaths will be reclassified, meaning the total number of deaths could drop to somewhere in the 20,000 range.
From State House News Service’s Chris Lisinski: “The new method suggested by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists calls for counting deaths within 30 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis where “natural causes” is labeled on a death certificate as attributable to the virus, half as long a timeframe as under the most recent definition in Massachusetts.”
A revision of road and bridge funding could be in the works
This easily could have gone unnoticed Wednesday, but the House’s lead lawmaker for transportation policy said legislators could potentially revise how the state calculates road and bridge funding for municipalities. CommonWealth’s Shira Schoenberg reports how Rep. William Straus said lawmakers would review the Chapter 90 funding formula, though a timeline for when that would occur wasn’t clear from his remarks.
Lawyer charged after MassGOP HQ incident
A lawyer who is accused of charging into the MassGOP headquarters in Woburn was charged with disorderly conduct. Boston Herald’s Flint McColgan reports Hugh Samson allegedly walked into the headquarters and made what staffers who were present called threatening statements.
More from McColgan: “Police reports read aloud at the hearing by Luis Castro, court prosecutor for the Woburn Police Department, said that Samson called staffers ‘(Expletive) fascists’ and questioned them about whether the Capitol riots in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, were directed by the Republican Party.”
Five people who worked at Springfield Courthouse died of ALS
Five people — including three judges — who worked at the Roderick L. Ireland Courthouse died of ALS, reports MassLive’s Jim Kinney. That’s according to a letter from the head of the building to the Environmental Advisory Committee that includes a call for an epidemiological study and the building’s replacement.
Baseball is back. See you at Fenway
This is the best news we’ve heard all week: a lockout between the MLB and the player’s union is over. Associated Press’ Ronald Blum reports the players voted to accept the league’s latest offer for a deal. The 162-game regular season would start on April 7.
What does that mean for the Red Sox? Boston Globe’s Alex Speier discusses the implications.
Push in Worcester to decriminalize psychedelics
Advocates in Worcester are urging the city’s Human Rights Commission to endorse a petition calling for the decriminalization of plants containing psychoactive compounds (think magic mushrooms). Telegram & Gazette’s Steven H. Foskett Jr. reports supporters of the petition say the compounds have been proven to help people with depression, anxiety, trauma, and addiction.
Boston committee to study rent control policies
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu wants a committee to study ways the city can limit rising rents with a goal of delivering recommendations to the Legislature before the start of the 2023-2024 session. WBUR’s Simon Rios reports housing advocates, community organizers, and a market-rate developer make up the 23-member group.
Diehl state his case as he starts tour of state
Danny Jin of the Berkshire Eagle caught up with former state Rep. Geoff Diehl as he started a tour of the state in Dalton. Jin found the GOP gubernatorial hopeful, emphasizing his support for local issues such as East-West rail while also taking aim at both his Republican rival Chris Doughty – whom he called out for supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016 – and the Democrats in the race, who he said are ‘too extreme’ for the Bay State.
Veterans advocates fret over reported closure of Northampton facility
Lawmakers and advocates say they still hope to save the Northampton Veterans Affairs medical center from closure after reports said the facility will soon appear on a list of facilities to be shuttered by the federal agency. Dusty Christensen and Chris Larabee of the Daily Hampshire Gazette report some worry that it will be harder for veterans in the far-flung hilltowns of western Mass. to access care if the Northampton site is closed.
UMass nabs $10M gift for extreme weather research
The UMass Amherst College of Engineering has received its largest donation ever, a $10 million gift from 1960 graduate Jerome Paros that will help advance the school’s research into extreme weather events and ways to better forecast and prepare for them, Tristan Smith of MassLive reports.
Rehoboth selectmen resign following highway superintendent’s ouster
Two of the five members of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have abruptly resigned after the board’s decision earlier this week to fire the town’s highway superintendent, who is himself a former board member. George Rhodes of the Sun Chronicle explains what is known so far.
Sunday Public Affairs: Bill Keating, Steve Tolman, top docs
Keller at Large, WBZ-TV Ch. 4, 8:30 a.m. This week’s guest: AFL-CIO president Steve Tolman discussing their battle with the app-based ride share companies over gig worker classification, his support for drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, and his take on Attorney General Maura Healey’s handling of labor issues.
On The Record, WCVB-TV Ch. 5, Sunday, 11 a.m. Guest: U.S. Rep. Bill Keating talks with hosts Janet Wu and Sharman Sacchetti followed by a discussing with political analysts Mary Anne Marsh and Rob Gray.
CityLine, WCVB-TV, Ch. 5 Sunday 12 p.m., This week’s topic: Boston Medical Center Doctors Jai Marathe and Cassandra Pierre discuss the long-term effects of COVID-19; Brown University student Adeiyewunmi Osinubi talks about the challenges of Black motherhood, and Dr. Seth Gale from Brigham and Women’s Hospital covers Alzheimer’s disease among African Americans.
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