Unemployment portal now in multiple languages

Chinese, Vietnamese, Haitain Kreyol, and Portuguese added, over two months into coronavirus pandemic

ONE DAY AFTER making the state’s unemployment insurance portal available in Portuguese, the state added versions in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Haitian Kreyol.

The new versions were added this week with little fanfare and weeks after the Baker administration indicated they would be forthcoming. The Spanish language version was announced in April by the governor himself during an interview with El Mundo Boston. At the time, his administration said translations in other languages would be coming in a matter of days.

Advocates are still hoping that the unemployment insurance portal application is translated into Cape Verdean Kreyol, a language spoken by at least 65,000 people in Massachusetts.

Bethany Li, an attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services who has been helping Cantonese and Mandarin speakers, welcomed the new translations.

“Language access for initial applications is the first step” she said. “Making the process easier for people to stay on unemployment insurance and talk directly to representatives with any problems is also important for stabilizing people’s lives during this crisis.” The organization has processed over 1,200 unemployment applications in other languages.

More than 1.5 million residents speak a language other than English in the Bay State, according to census data. According to the Census Bureau’s 2018 community survey, about 240,000 speak Spanish, 180,000 speak Portuguese, and 125,000 Cantonese and Mandarin combined. Over 74,000 speak Haitian Creole, and 41,000 Vietnamese. These numbers are expected to increase significantly in the 2020 census.

Here are links to the various versions:

File for unemployment in Chinese

File for unemployment in Vietnamese

File for unemployment in Haitian Kreyol

Meet the Author

Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

File for unemployment in Spanish

File for unemployment in Portuguese