AUGUSTA — For the week ending July 11, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 4,600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 3,400 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 4,400 individuals filing an initial claim.
While there is always a slight uptick in unemployment claims filed in early July due to temporary mill and factory shutdowns, because of widespread fraud attacks on unemployment insurance programs across the country, the Department is actively analyzing this increase.
About 60,000 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 23,900 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15 and July 11, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out about $1.1 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.
The Department has handled approximately 172,400 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 80,200 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been about 1.68 million weekly certifications filed.
Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision. Tomorrow morning, July 17, the Department of Labor will release monthly workforce data on the employment situation in June. That data on the change in payroll jobs and the unemployment rate provides the best indication of workforce conditions.
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.
During the week ending July 11, the Department cancelled about 300 initial claims and 1,800 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.
In total, between the week ending May 30 through week ending July 11, the Department has cancelled over 25,000 initial claims and 48,000 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.
To date, the Department has received about 19,400 unique reports of unemployment imposter fraud. This number does not include the duplicate reports that had been included in previous weeks. The Department has also reinstated almost 13,800 claims to legitimate claimants that had been flagged for potential fraud.
Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person’s Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employee’s personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft.
The investigation is ongoing, and new incidences of potential fraud are identified every day.