THE PIONEER BLOG

How Should Massachusetts Reopen Its K–12 Schools in the Fall? Lessons from Abroad and Other States

This report asserts that, with the fall semester fast approaching, Massachusetts should provide more specific COVID-19-related guidance for school districts about ramping up remote learning infrastructure; rotating in-person cohort schedules; diversifying methods of communication between students, parents, and teachers; and investigating physical distancing capabilities.  Districts must determine whether to adopt in-person, remote, or hybrid schooling options, and they will not be ready for the fall unless the state provides clear direction.

A Time to Build

The MBTA is taking advantage of anemic low ridership from the pandemic to improve its infrastructure, but the minimal ridership also creates serious operating budget issues. Pioneer Institute’s website, MBTAAnalysis, confirms that ridership cratered in recent months, which means a massive drop in fare revenue. In every category, May ridership numbers are a fraction of what they were in February. While low ridership gives the MBTA a rare opportunity to renovate without interfering with travelers, analysis from the Massachusetts Tax Payer Foundation suggests that the T could have an “existential” operating budget deficit of more than $400 million by fiscal year 2022. The MBTA faced dire financial strain in 2015 and has spent years recovering by establishing a Fiscal and […]

One UMass System, Different Reopening Plans

One UMass System, Different Reopening Plans On March 11, UMass President Marty Meehan made the decision to shift all five UMass campuses to online instruction for the remainder of the semester. This decision was echoed by many other universities across Massachusetts and the nation in response to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.  As the four UMass campuses that serve undergraduates continue finalizing their plans for the fall and beyond, it seems that the system is permitting each school’s local landscape to factor into campus reopening plans. This is an encouraging sign. Given that UMass-Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell are all unique campuses, they need not chart the same path. Table 1 demonstrates that the areas surrounding UMass undergraduate campuses […]

Bringing Back Youth Soccer Amidst COVID-19

For decades, organized youth soccer has been a staple for teaching valuable lessons and improving physical fitness of children all over the country; more than three million players from the ages of 5 to 19 are registered currently with U.S Youth Soccer. However, soccer organizations across the nation must implement several new protocols for kids, coaches, referees, parents, and other spectators to stay safe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While new policy is being put in place as a result of the pandemic, many of the resulting procedures will likely merit long-term use in youth soccer.   Although the game is played outdoors and primarily with players separated and kicking the ball, there are still numerous ways that the virus has […]

Announcing the Pioneer Institute & Nichols College Sports Management Policy College Case Competition

In recognition of the cancellation of many student internships for summer 2020, especially those in the sports management industry held concurrently with major sporting events, Pioneer Institute has partnered with Nichols College to provide undergraduate college students an opportunity to solve problems pertinent to the present COVID-19 crisis in a rewarding, competitive format.    The Institute is working to facilitate the adaptation of youth sports leagues to these challenging times for the benefit of our children’s physical and mental wellbeing. Enforcing cleanliness procedures among young athletes can be extremely challenging, and we believe this issue deserves more attention in advance of a potential resurgence of COVID-19 in the fall.    Youth sports are used to teach children interpersonal communication, discipline, […]

Open Letter to MassDOT Board Regarding I-90 Allston Multimodal Project

Read Pioneer’s Open Letter to MassDOT on the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project, Boston, MA National Environmental Policy Act Review Scoping Report: All At-Grade Option and 8-lane Turnpike – Throat Area

Sensible police reform includes changing ‘qualified immunity’ laws

Even in a time of painful divisions in our country, there is little doubt among people of good faith that what Derek Chauvin and three other former Minneapolis police officers did to George Floyd was criminal. If they are indeed convicted of a felony, how is it that the former officers could very well be immune from civil liability?

Coronavirus Hits Back on Communities Who Slowed Their Spread

“This couldn’t come at a worse time,” said rep. Bill Keating while discussing COVID-19’s effect on Cape Cod’s summer season. Every year, the Cape and Islands draw people from around the country to their beaches and historic communities. Tourists, celebrities, and even presidents go to visit the beautiful landscape while bringing with them enough business to support a seasonal industry that many locals rely on. But with the Coronavirus pandemic that brought stay-at-home orders, social distancing guidelines, and overall fear, the Cape and Islands are suffering. When it comes to COVID-19 and places like Cape Cod, the consequences of the virus don’t necessarily follow the spread. Nantucket County, for example, has both the highest unemployment rate (23.5%) and lowest COVID-19 […]

Even for the most remote part of Massachusetts (Franklin County), it’s far from business as usual

The Connecticut River valley is home to some of the most productive agricultural land in New England, and rural Franklin County, Massachusetts has some visible agricultural traditions. The county seat of Greenfield alone is home to several tree farms, a livestock producer, and a composting service.   At the same time, Franklin County is a poster child for the decades-long trend of declining agricultural and manufacturing jobs across the country, and COVID-19 has thrown an additional wrench into the county’s initiative to reshape its economic identity to emphasize tourism and the arts. The area’s patchwork of small towns has created an economic landscape that’s hard to categorize, as exhibited by the lack of a strong presence of any given industry […]

38.8 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 28.3 percent of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims over the past ten weeks.

Data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that 38.8 percent of the Massachusetts workforce and 28.3 percent of the U.S. workforce have filed unemployment claims since the COVID-19 unemployment surge began ten weeks ago.

Once anchored by higher education, Hampshire County, MA finds itself out of work after a cancelled semester

The 38,000 college and university students at the Five College Consortium in Western Massachusetts essentially increase the population of Hampshire County by 25% each fall. With this large student population comes the need for ancillary academic services, dining options, recreation opportunities, shopping options, and nightlife. Thousands of local residents are employed on or near these college campuses as custodians, college store and postal service clerks, retail workers, coaches, health care workers, and special event coordinators. So when COVID-19 moved the nexus of student activity from sprawling campuses to the internet, many of these jobs disappeared overnight.   As a result, Amherst, home to three of the consortium’s five colleges, contains two of the three zip codes with the highest modeled […]

In Hampden County, COVID-19 exacerbates a stark employment divide between urban and rural areas

Hampden County, Massachusetts, home of Western New England’s largest city, Springfield, has more COVID-19 deaths per capita than any other Massachusetts county as of May 20. This tragic fact is driven by the 74 lives lost at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home, a nation-leading figure for a single long-term care facility.    But while death rates are often hard to calculate in real time, researchers at Applied Geographic Solutions, Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California have started to estimate the virus’s impact on a key economic indicator: unemployment rates. And for Hampden County, the results are devastating. Multiple neighborhoods in and around downtown Springfield have estimated unemployment rates over 35%. Just 2 miles downstream on the Connecticut River, zip code 01106, in […]

As stay-at-home orders remain in place at the start of summer tourist season, COVID-19 takes a bite out of resort towns’ economies

Last month, Pioneer Institute showed that the hospitality and tourism sector is among the most negatively impacted industries from the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts. Now, this trend is clear on even the smallest scale, with zip codes reliant on seasonal tourism, lodgings, and recreation to fuel their economies estimated to have some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. This is according to Pioneer Institute’s new COVID-19 Unemployment Tracker, which presents unemployment estimates modeled by Applied Geographic Solutions, Inc., based in Thousand Oaks, California.    Take zip code 01247, mostly in North Adams, for example. It is home to the largest contemporary art museum in the United States, with several other history, science, and art museums and historic mansions […]

It’s Time for the MBTA to Actively Engage Riders to Understand Their Commuting Plans

The MBTA should conduct a survey of mTicket app users regarding their future plans. Some may never work in offices again. Some will certainly do some workdays in the office and some at home. Others will be in offices and back to business as usual at some point.
Using their responses, the T can calculate ridership and determine projected revenue.

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of a 15.1 percent unemployment rate in April only reflects half of Massachusetts’ COVID-19 unemployment surge

Today’s release by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of a 15.1% April unemployment rate for Massachusetts essentially reports the damage that has been done during the first five weeks of Massachusetts’ ten-week long unemployment tsunami. Since this data was collected by the U.S. Census Bureau during the week of April 12-18, Massachusetts has received 381,687 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and 210,485 regular unemployment claims (UI) filed between April 20 and May 16. These UI and PUA claims equate to 15.6 percent of the MA civilian workforce as of March 14, when the unemployment surge began. MA Civilian workforce March 14 3,740,602 UI Claims April 19 – May 16 210,485 PUA Claims April 19  – May 16 371,202 Total 581,687 Total […]