Stories about Maine Department of Labor


Legislative watchdog committee votes to continue monitoring jobless benefit appeals

By Chris Williams on June 26, 2014, at 3:28 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A special federal audit has found no evidence of bias or undue political influence in the outcomes of unemployment compensation appeals hearings at the Maine Department of Labor, a state official told the Legislature. Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette reported to the Legislature’s Government Oversight …

Maine’s jobless rate held steady at 5.7% in May

By Darren Fishell on June 20, 2014, at 4:05 p.m.
PORTLAND | Maine’s unemployment rate remained at 5.7 percent in May, down one percentage point from a year ago and unchanged since April in preliminary estimates from the Maine Department of Labor. The share of unsuccessful job seekers remained lower than the national average of 6.3 percent for May …
An employment application is shown at the career center in Bangor in 2011.

Unemployment benefits end for 3,500 long-term jobless Mainers

By Mario Moretto on Dec. 27, 2013, at 4:51 p.m.
AUGUSTA | This week’s holiday cheer will be cut short Saturday for thousands of Mainers who will lose jobless benefits as the federal Extended Unemployment Compensation expires. Roughly 3,500 long-term unemployed residents no longer will be eligible for unemployment checks on Saturday, said Maine Department of Labor spokeswoman Julie …
Gov. Paul LePage

Feds finishing probe into whether LePage pressured labor officers to be more ‘pro-business’

By Chris Williams on Dec. 13, 2013, at 12:10 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Members of a state commission that studied problems with the Maine unemployment claims and appeals process said Thursday that a federal investigation into claims that Gov. Paul LePage pressured unemployment appeals hearing officers to be more “pro-business” is expected to wrap up next month. Former Maine Supreme …

Panel finds Maine Labor Department ‘vastly understaffed’ but no unemployment bias

By Mario Moretto on Dec. 10, 2013, at 4:46 p.m.
AUGUSTA | A commission created by Gov. Paul LePage to investigate the state’s unemployment claims process says there is no bias in the system but that severe understaffing and bad communication are making the system inefficient. The Unemployment Reform Blue Ribbon Commission was assembled in May after reports surfaced …
People use computers at the state Department of Labor's Career Center in Bangor recently.

Maine can make education-to-work program work

on Dec. 01, 2013, at 11:29 a.m.
You may not have heard of it, but the Competitive Skills Scholarship Program is Maine’s largest, most comprehensive state program helping low-income adults further their education, so they can get a job in a high-growth field. The program aims to do what the research makes clear: If you further your …
Daniel Wathen

Sweeping changes to Maine’s unemployment benefits appeals system urged

By Mario Moretto on Sept. 12, 2013, at 5:42 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Employers and a lawyer representing state employees told an ad-hoc committee assembled by Gov. Paul LePage to study Maine’s unemployment system that the program’s appeals system must be made more fair and efficient. The study committee, composed of representatives for workers and businesses, heard testimony from unemployment …
Governor Paul LePage reacts to his overridden budget veto last month in Augusta.

LePage touts new positive jobs data, calls for more employment plans, less spending

By Christopher Cousins on July 18, 2013, at 7:01 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Republican Gov. Paul LePage touted the fact that Maine’s unemployment rate in June remained at 6.8 percent, which is the lowest since the recession struck in November 2008, as an indication that his fiscal policies are boosting Maine’s private sector. LePage said new data show the unemployment …
Jeanne Paquette

Jobless benefits being reduced in Maine as unemployment rate falls

By Whit Richardson on July 02, 2013, at 3:42 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Federal budget cuts and Maine’s falling unemployment rate have combined to reduce the number of weeks Mainers can claim unemployment benefits from 63 to 46. The changes will affect roughly 1,100 of the 15,000 Mainers who are collecting unemployment benefits, according to Julie Rabinowitz, a spokeswoman for …
Cpt. Robert Gross, (foreground) Washington County jail administrator, and Sgt. Karina Richardson, the jail’s clerk, listen to testimony in January during a hearing before the Washington County commissioners. Sheriff Donnie Smith accused his two jail employees of mismanaging funds from an inmate benefits fund and asked that they be fired.

Washington County sheriff appeals unemployment benefits awarded to former jail employees

By Mario Moretto on May 31, 2013, at 7:05 p.m.
MACHIAS | Washington County Sheriff Donnie Smith on Friday appealed unemployment benefits awarded to two former jail employees who were subject to an investigation about the misappropriation of jail funds earlier this year. But there are questions about whether Smith, acting on behalf of the county, has standing to …
Cpt. Robert Gross (foreground), the Washington County Jail administrator, and Sgt. Karina Richardson, the jail’s clerk, listen to testimony on Jan. 17 during a hearing before the Washington County commissioners.

Fired Washington County jail clerk awarded unemployment benefits because purchases followed ‘prevailing practice’

By Sharon Kiley Mack on May 22, 2013, at 3:22 p.m.
MACHIAS | The former clerk of the Washington County jail who was fired for misuse of jail inmate funds was merely following “prevailing practice,” according to a Maine Department of Labor hearing officer. The officer also ruled last week, after an all-day unemployment compensation hearing, that Karina Richardson, 50, …

Maine jobless rate reaches four-year low

By Whit Richardson on May 17, 2013, at 5:17 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Maine’s unemployment rate was 6.9 percent in April, falling below 7 percent for the first time since December 2008, according to preliminary estimates released Friday by the Maine Department of Labor. April’s unemployment rate represents a decrease from 7.1 percent in March and 7.3 percent in April …

Maine State Employees Association uses finance chief’s statements to push for raises

By Christopher Cousins on March 05, 2013, at 7:20 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Maine’s largest public employee union Tuesday called on the state’s finance commissioner to follow his own advice and negotiate higher pay for state workers. Maine State Employees Association has started a lobbying campaign highlighting comments made last week by Sawin Millett, the state’s finance chief, to make …
A portion of the Maine History Labor Mural, by Seal Cove artist Judy Taylor, as it appeared on the walls of the Department of Labor in Augusta before it was ordered removed by Gov. Paul LePage in March 2011.

Labor mural LePage had removed to get new home at Maine State Museum

BDN staff reports on Jan. 13, 2013, at 7:13 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The labor mural that Gov. Paul LePage had removed in 2011 from the lobby of the Department of Labor in Augusta has a new home, Labor Commissioner Jeanne Paquette and Maine State Museum Director Bernard Fishman announced Sunday. The 11-panel Maine Labor History Mural, which depicts scenes …
Lobster traps sit stacked on the Casco Bay Bridge abutment in South Portland on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, with Portland's waterfront behind them. The greater Portland metro area now counts for more than half the state's economic output.

Portland area now accounts for most of state’s economy. What happens to the rest of Maine?

By Whit Richardson on Nov. 23, 2012, at 12:54 p.m.
The economic shift to Maine’s south has become so pronounced during the last decade that Greater Portland now generates more than half the state’s economic output and one-third of its jobs, as the economies of other Maine cities have been relatively flat and rural regions decline. While conceding Portland’s geographic …
Gov. Paul LePage smiles during a ceremony at the Blaine House in Augusta in April 2012.

LePage declares five towns business-friendly; experts question economic strategy

By Christopher Cousins on Aug. 27, 2012, at 7:25 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Gov. Paul LePage declared five Maine towns business-friendly on Monday, though some experts said the program isn’t enough to counteract years of harmful policies and some of LePage’s other jobs initiatives, which they say are working against the governor’s own goals. One economic development expert questioned whether …
Artist Judy Taylor created a series of panels depicting important times in Maine's labor history, and they have been on display at the Maine Department of Labor offices in Augusta since 2008 until Gov. Paul LePage ordered the panels removed.

Labor mural case continues with court appeal of decision in LePage’s favor

By Matthew Stone on July 24, 2012, at 3:42 p.m.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs who challenged Gov. Paul LePage’s removal of a labor history mural from the lobby of the Maine Department of Labor have filed their promised appeal of a judge’s March decision in favor of LePage in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The appeal, …
Maine Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass

Out-of-work Mainers hit by federal training cuts

By Mal Leary on June 17, 2012, at 1:33 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Tens of thousands of Mainers are out of work. Federal cuts to job training programs have resulted in fewer people getting training for new jobs, and it could get worse as Congress considers deeper cuts. “We have seen significant cuts in all of these training programs,” said …
Robert Winglass

Maine Department of Labor says it overbilled feds by $1.3M

The Associated Press on May 11, 2012, at 6:37 p.m.
AUGUSTA | The Maine Department of Labor says it took $1.3 million that it wasn’t entitled to from the U.S. Department of Labor over a period of nearly 12 years. Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass said he updated the governor Friday and sent a letter to federal officials to acknowledge …
Robert Winglass

Maine labor comissioner pledges fast implementation of new unemployment fraud law

By Mal Leary on April 18, 2012, at 6 p.m.
AUGUSTA | Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass says his agency is gearing up to implement the new law on unemployment fraud, expressing his belief that fraud is worse than many believe. “I think there are more than perhaps are being credited, more people who are abusing the system,” he said …