Labor officials provide Nov. 25 update on unemployment benefits, benefits fraud

Wed, 11/25/2020 - 5:45pm

    AUGUSTA — For the week ending November 21, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,200 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 2,000 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    In total, approximately 2,800 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim. The increase in PUA initial claims is due to eligible claimants who were on the state Extended Benefit (EB) program when it ended November 14 moving to the PUA program.

    About 11,800 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 13,700 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 13,500 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and 2,400 weekly certifications were filed for the state Extended Benefits program. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

    Reminder that CareerCenter services are available to help people identify and take next their steps. It is a requirement that those receiving unemployment insurance benefits also be registered on the Maine JobLink, which includes a weekly newsletter for job seekers highlighting opportunities and training.

    Between March 15 and November 21, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.68 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.

    The Department has handled approximately 203,000 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 98,700 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been over 2.8 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 November 21, the Department canceled 806 initial claims and 15 weekly certifications 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.