The latest weekly unemployment claims data for Maine show that, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, workforce activity in Maine is reverting in some ways to normal, yearly trends.

For the week ending Saturday, initial claims for jobless benefits fell to 1,900 from 2,150 the previous week, according to the Maine Department of Labor. The total number of Mainers either filing an initial claim or reopening a previous claim last week was 2,250, down significantly from 3,000 the previous week, the department reported.

That decline in new claims tracks with previous years, in which jobless claims tended to rise in the fall and then decrease as spring approached.

One area in which seasonal trends don’t currently hold sway is continuing claims filed by Mainers suffering prolonged periods of unemployment. Such claims remain historically high, with 50,100 continuing claims filed last week. That number is nearly identical to the previous week and has been fairly steady for months.

A year earlier, just before the pandemic disrupted Maine’s economy, the number of continuing claims filed in the last week of February totaled less than 9,000.

Nationally, the number of new jobless claims filed edged higher last week to 745,000, a sign that many employers continue to cut jobs despite a drop in confirmed viral infections and evidence that the overall economy is improving, The Associated Press reported.

Thursday’s report from the U.S. Labor Department showed that jobless claims rose by 9,000 from the previous week, according to the AP. Though the pace of layoffs has eased since the year began, they remain high by historical standards, it said. Before the virus flattened the U.S. economy a year ago, new applications for unemployment aid had never topped 700,000 in any week, even during the Great Recession.


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