Labor officials provide Dec. 31 update on unemployment benefits, benefits fraud

Thu, 12/31/2020 - 8:30am

    AUGUSTA — For the week ending December 26, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,700 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 1,800 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), according to a news release. 

    In total, approximately 3,300 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.

    About 13,400 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 16,500 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 10,500 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

    Maine’s typically sees increases in state unemployment claims this time of year due to seasonal layoffs that occur every winter, such as in accommodations, eating and drinking places, construction, landscaping, and temporary help. Some of these industries have seen increased impact due to COVID-19.

    Between March 15 and December 26, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.7 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.

    The Department has handled approximately 216,500 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 105,200 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been over three million weekly certifications filed.

    Fraud Update

    The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.

    During the week ending December 26, the Department cancelled 1,472 initial claims and one weekly certification that were determined to be fraudulent.

    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.