The state is creating a new department called the Department of Family and Medical Leave. This is the perfect opportunity for the state to help an area of the state that is lagging.
The Boston economy is white-hot. The city’s unemployment rate was 2.3% in December 2018, and most suburbs have rates less than 2%. Housing prices are high, and commercial rents are even higher.
Meanwhile other parts of the state are still being left behind and the income disparity is widening.
Springfield’s unemployment rate is traditionally more than double that of Boston, and December 2018 is no different, its rate was 4.9% – certainly better than 2010 (earliest data I can access), when it was 15%, but still high. Median family income is well behind the rest of the state, reported as $34,731 per year, compared to the state at $67,846 and Boston at $54,485, and the Boston Metro area at $74,494. Downtown vacancies are rampant, and even though the new casino has been open for six months, there has been zero ancillary development around it – most storefronts directly across from it are still vacant with no development even being considered.
So doesn’t it make sense to put this brand-new department in a city like Springfield? Cheaper rents, less-crowded, overall lower cost of living, and it helps balance the state’s economy across the entire state?
You’d think it would be a no-brainer, but Boston doesn’t think that way. It recently consolidated several departments back into Boston, closing a Department of Unemployment Insurance call center in 2016, and the relocation State Lottery functions from Springfield to Worcester this May.
Why isn’t is automatic state policy to do something like this?