Maine expects to cut off extended unemployment benefits in mid-November as the state’s labor market conditions improve.

Another 1,800 individuals filed new claims for state and federal jobless benefits in the third week of October, the Maine Department of Labor reported Thursday.

Roughly 46,400 continuing benefits claims were filed under state and federal programs, including 700 claims for state extended benefits.

Maine’s extended benefits program is available in times of high unemployment, the department said in a news release. It provides another 13 weeks of benefits to those who have exhausted their traditional 26 weeks of state unemployment payments.

Under state law, extended benefits are triggered when the insured unemployment rate – the rate for those who are eligible for unemployment insurance –exceeds 5 percent for 13 weeks and the 13-week average insured unemployment rate is 120 percent higher than the same period over the past two years.

Maine enacted extended benefits at the height of the jobless crisis in mid-May, when the 13-week average insured unemployment rate surpassed 7 percent.


In recent weeks, that unemployment rate has declined, even though a high number of Mainers claim jobless benefits and new layoffs place workers onto state and federal unemployment programs. The current 13-week average insured unemployment rate is about 5.4 percent.

“We are projecting that extended benefits will end in mid-November,” said Maine Department of Labor spokeswoman Jessica Picard.

“With regular state unemployment claims steadily decreasing, the rate has been dropping each week as people exhaust regular state unemployment and move to federal unemployment programs,” Picard added.

Thousands of workers who would typically collect benefits from state extended unemployment are instead collecting federal benefits under Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which provides an added 13 weeks of federally funded benefits for those who have exhausted their state benefits.

Last week, roughly 14,400 weekly claims were filed for PEUC benefits in Maine. Those claims would have been made for state extended benefits if the federal program did not exist, Picard said.

“If they are still unemployed and eligible after those up to 13 weeks of PEUC are exhausted, they would then be put in the state extended benefits program for a final 13 weeks. Once extended benefits is exhausted, there is not another unemployment program,” Picard said.

Unemployed Mainers who are on extended benefits when it expires will be moved to a different federal jobless program, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which provides benefits to workers not covered by state assistance. Those workers will receive federal benefits for the weeks remaining on their state extended benefits.

Both federal programs, the PEUC and the PUA, expire Dec. 26. So far, no program replacement or extension has emerged.

“Unless Congress takes some sort of action, that means that at that time states will only have regular state unemployment insurance again,” Picard said.

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