The number of claims for continued unemployment assistance dipped last week in Maine despite the state’s continued high unemployment and an upturn in jobless claims nationally.

About 70,700 claims for continued jobless benefits were filed in Maine in the second week of August, 7,000 fewer than the prior week, according to the Maine Department of Labor. That’s a decline of about 8 percent.

Roughly 45,500 continued claims were filed last week for state unemployment benefits. In addition, about 25,200 continued claims were filed under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Continued claims must be filed every week in order to continue receiving benefits.

The number of Mainers filing new claims remained about the same as the previous week, with roughly 1,500 requesting jobless benefits, the department reported Thursday. The actual number of initial claims increased to 2,500 from about 1,800 the week before, but many of those – about 1,000 – were duplicates caused by overlap between state and federal benefits programs.

Nationally, the number of jobless claims filed last week rose to 1.1 million following two weeks of declines, evidence that many employers in other states are still slashing jobs as the coronavirus bedevils the U.S. economy, The Associated Press reported. That doesn’t appear to be happening in Maine, where outbreaks of COVID-19 have remained largely under control.

Last week was the first time since March that Mainers applying for unemployment benefits had to certify they were looking for new work. The requirement only applies to those who lost their job, and not for those who are still connected to their employer and expect to be called back to work.


The state labor department has not said whether it will apply for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide an added $300 per week for eligible claimants, plus another $100 in optional state funds.

That program was established under a presidential order and funded with $44 billion in disaster assistance funds. So far, grants to at least seven states have been approved by FEMA, but the agency says it could be at least three weeks before added benefits are available. Some analysts say the program only has enough funding to last a few weeks once it’s implemented.

Maine has not said whether it will participate in the program initiated by President Trump. A labor department spokesperson did not respond to questions about it Thursday, but Gov. Janet Mills has said the measure does not go far enough to provide real relief for the tens of thousands of jobless Mainers.

Between March 15 and Aug. 15, the state labor department paid out about $1.38 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits, it said Thursday.

The department has handled roughly 181,000 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 84,400 initial claims for the federal assistance program. There have been about 2.1 million continuing claims filed during the five-month period, it said.

The department said it continues to review all claims carefully as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud, when a person’s personal information is stolen and used to illegally apply for jobless benefits. Last week, the department canceled about 575 initial claims and 60 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent. Maine is one of many states working with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent unemployment imposter fraud.


The department encouraged anyone who believes someone else has used their personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment claim to notify it immediately at

As of Aug. 9, work search activities are required for anyone filing for unemployment benefits who is not expecting to go back to their previous employer or to continue their self-employment. The labor department said it has temporarily expanded the definition of work search activities to also include skill development activities.

Those who are permanently separated from their employer and did not participate in any work search activities for the week of Aug. 9 will receive a letter reminding them of the work search requirement. If, after the reminder letter, the claimant fails to participate in a work search activity in a week for which they filed for benefits, they will be scheduled for a fact-finding interview.

Based on information provided during the interview, the department will determine whether benefits for that week should be allowed or denied, it said.

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