Volunteers load bags of food into the bed of a client's pick up truck in the drive thru line at the West Houston Assistance Ministries Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Houston. Credit: Michael Wyke / AP

Maine’s initial unemployment claims increased slightly for the week ended Oct. 24 despite national claims declining more than expected, according to state and federal labor department data released Thursday.

Initial claims in Maine were up by 200 to 1,500 claims filed for state unemployment insurance. Another 700 claims were filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, also up by 200 from the last week.

Nationally, there were 751,000 initial claims, down 40,000 from the previous week. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected 778,000 new claims for last week. The figure released today is the lowest since mid-March, when businesses began shutting due to the pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“Thirty-three weeks into the crisis, claims are finally close to falling below 1 million weekly and approaching peak levels seen during the Great Recession,” Glassdoor analyst Daniel Zhao wrote in a tweet.

Still, the rise in novel coronavirus cases nationwide has Wall Street analysts questioning whether there will be another curtailment of business and other activities to contain the spread, and if that might cause a surge in unemployment claims going forward.

Maine also saw about 14,700 continued claims, which must be filed weekly by recipients, with another 16,600 weekly certifications filed under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Those were both down from last week’s 15,600 and 14,900, respectively.

About 14,400 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, up from 13,800 last week, and 700 weekly certifications were filed for the state Extended Benefits program, the same as last week.