Maine saw new jobless claims fall slightly last week as tens of thousands of Mainers are poised to lose the benefits that helped them weather the pandemic-induced recession.
Mainers filed 2,550 claims for new jobless benefits or to reopen a jobless claim, according to Maine Department of Labor data released Thursday morning. That’s down from 2,900 the week before.
Additionally, Mainers filed nearly 41,800 applications to continue receiving jobless benefits: 11,800 for state jobless benefits, 13,900 for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, 13,700 for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment program and 2,200 for state extended benefits.
That represents a slight decrease in continued jobless claims from the previous week, when 42,950 Mainers sought to renew benefits. 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, Mainers have received more than $1.66 billion in jobless benefits, according to the Department of Labor. It paid out nearly $74 million in all of 2019. Mainers have filed more than 297,500 new jobless claims in that period.
Thursday’s jobless report comes amid the ongoing surge in coronavirus transmission. Since that began a little more than three weeks ago, the state has seen more than 3,600 new cases. That’s nearly as many as was seen from when the first case was reported on March 12 to July 20.
Against the backdrop of escalating virus transmission, nearly 30,000 jobless Mainers are set to lose benefits when federal programs expire on Dec. 26, while up to 6,000 could lose state benefits before the end of the year. For many Maine families, those benefits have been a lifeline amid the economic upheaval wrought by the pandemic.
On Thursday, labor officials said that 1,900 new and 25 continued jobless claims were canceled due to fraud for the week ending Nov. 14.
Maine’s unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in September from 6.9 percent in August. That compares with 2.9 percent a year ago. The economic slump brought on by the coronavirus pandemic ended a 39-month streak of unemployment below 4 percent.
Nationally, 742,000 Americans filed new jobless claims for the week ending Nov. 14, which was up 31,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 711,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.