Labor officials report uptick in unemployment claims

Thu, 04/08/2021 - 8:45am

    AUGUSTA — For the week ending April 3, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,100 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 200 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

    In total, approximately 3,000 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.

    The increase in state unemployment initial claims is due to layoffs in retail trade, administrative and support and waste management and remediation Services, and accommodations and food service industries as well as seasonal layoffs in skiing and logging industries, per a news release. 

    Part of the increase is from claimants qualifying for a new benefit year after at least a one-week break in filing a weekly claim. A claimant’s benefit year is the 52-week period after they file an initial claim. For example, if someone filed their initial claim in March 2020, their benefit year would end in March 2021 and a new one would need to be established if they are eligible to collect state unemployment benefits.

    About 15,200 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 13,400 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 17,800 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.

    Between March 15, 2020 and April 3, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.

    The Department has handled approximately 249,100 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 110,550 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 3.7 million weekly certifications filed.

    Fraud Update

    The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims, and to evolve its fraud prevention techniques.

    During the week ending April 3, the Department cancelled 695 initial claims and one weekly claim suspected to be fraudulent.