BOSTON (AP) – What the “new normal” of a post-pandemic economy might look like in Massachusetts is the subject of a report released Tuesday by the Massachusetts Senate Chairmen who argued that it was not possible, simply going back to the procedure before 2020 is not good enough.
The report of the Senate Committee on Reshaping Massachusetts Post-Pandemic Resilience examines a number of possible steps the state could take to address a range of issues, from the future of work, digital infrastructure and racial justice to housing, education , public health, and transportation and commuting needs.
The report’s release comes as lawmakers weigh up how best to spend about $ 5 billion on federal pandemic relief funds.
The committee’s goal was to investigate the key vulnerabilities that COVID-19 has uncovered in the economy, according to Senate Democratic President Karen Spilka.
“We all know things are changing. We are not exactly returning to the old normal, ”Spilka said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Spilka said she was particularly impressed with the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on women in the workplace.
She said the state needs to find more creative solutions to empower the Massachusetts care sector to better support those – often women – who try to juggle work while caring for vulnerable family members.
“I understand that if we want a full and equitable recovery, we need to look at the factors that affect women’s employment at all levels and in every sector,” she said.
One innovation Spilka would like to see is the creation of intergenerational care centers that offer childcare, elderly care and care for people with disabilities, sometimes in the same facility. She said the centers could serve as a “doorstep” for overworked family members seeking information or recommendations.
Democratic Senator Adam Hinds, who chaired the committee, said the report highlighted other vulnerabilities, particularly in communities that fared worse during the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn.
These communities often face a range of challenges, from wage stagnation and the lack of affordable childcare to rising housing and healthcare costs.
“The state’s recovery from the pandemic and our ability to build resilience to future pandemics literally depends on our commitment to addressing growing inequality now,” Hinds said.
Some of the issues raised in the report focus on how families can build wealth in so-called “underbanked communities” where individuals may not have traditional bank accounts and take advantage of institutions such as check cashers and payday lenders.
“How do you deal with underserved communities and the impact of intergenerational wealth transfers, and how do we seek once and for all to make progress on income and wealth gaps that create different health outcomes and different lifelong incomes and educational attainments?” Hinds said.
Hinds said that access to the Internet is a key factor in improving community economic outcomes.
A greater percentage of workers in communities with poorer internet access have jobs that do not allow them to work from home compared to those living in more affluent communities, he said coming to work remotely.
“If you’re making more than $ 100,000 a year, you’re twice as likely to have remote-friendly jobs as those making less than $ 50,000,” he said. “Particularly colored workers are cut off from the protection and benefits of remote and hybrid work.”