Maine’s new jobless claims rose slightly with about 2,600 people seeking benefits for the week ending Sept. 19, according to statistics released by the Maine Department of Labor on Thursday.
Of the 2,600 new claims filed Sep. 12 to Sept. 19, 1,400 were for traditional unemployment benefits from the state and 1,200 initial claims were filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program Congress approved in late March as part of a coronavirus-relief package.
These claims represent about 2,200 individuals filing an initial claim, according to the state. To qualify for the federal jobless benefits, Mainers must first be denied state benefits before they can apply for them under pandemic assistance, which extends benefits to those who traditionally don’t qualify for them, such as the self-employed or independent contractors.
Mainers filed 2,400 jobless claims for the week of Sept. 6 to Sept. 12 ― 1,400 were for traditional state benefits and 1,000 for federal pandemic benefits.
Additionally, Mainers filed about 54,400 continued unemployment claims last week. Of those, 27,700 were for state unemployment and another 17,700 continued weekly claims were for the federal relief program. Another 8,600 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and 900 weekly certifications were filed for the state Extended Benefits program.
That’s a decline from the week before, when nearly 57,000 applications for renewed benefits were filed. Some 65,700 Mainers sought to renew benefits the week before that. But that still remains well above the high seen in April 2009 during the Great Recession, when 28,564 out-of-work Mainers sought to continue receiving jobless benefits.
Since March 15, the department has paid out over $1.55 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. It paid out nearly $74 million in all of 2019.