June 01, 2020
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More than 11,500 Mainers filed for unemployment last week

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A confident sign makes a statement at Don's Sports Cards on Brighton Avenue in Portland on April 9.

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AUGUSTA, Maine — More than 11,500 Mainers filed for unemployment during the week ending May 16, bringing the total to more than 138,000 since March, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

Of that number, 4,640 Mainers filed for unemployment and additional 7,043 initial claims were filed for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

[Our COVID-19 tracker contains the most recent information on Maine cases by county]

Nationally, 2.44 million new claims were filed, down 249,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That brings the total claims over the past nine weeks to 38.6 million.

The Maine labor department now separates initial claims for state unemployment and the federal assistance program in its weekly reporting, it said.

The department also now reports the number of individuals who have filed claims. The number of filed claims and the number of people who filed claims are separate data, because individuals may have multiple claims counted in the raw claims numbers depending on their circumstances or eligibility for certain programs.

Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Almost 92,000 continued claims were filed last week for state unemployment, an increase of about 5,000 over the previous week.

In addition, about 35,700 continued claims were filed under the assistance program, including for retroactive benefit weeks.

Continued claims must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

The initial weekly assistance program payment for all claimants is $172, which is 50 percent of Maine’s average weekly unemployment benefit. In the coming weeks, the department says it will be sending emails to self-employed recipients of the assistance program with instructions on how to upload income verification and tax documentation so that their benefits can be adjusted if needed.

The additional weekly $600 created by the new Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program is retroactive to the week ending April 4 and is available through July 25.

Unemployment claims are not a direct measure of the number of people who are unemployed, according to the department.

BDN writer Lori Valigra contributed to this report.

Watch: State labor commissioner speaks to unemployed Mainers


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