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Maine's Jobless Could See Federal Unemployment Funds Next Week, But Some Will Have To Wait Longer

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press
A Patagonia outdoors clothing store is one of numerous retail stores forced to close because of the pandemic, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in Freeport, Maine.

It will likely be at least a week before Mainers who do freelance work, or have already used all their unemployment for the year, will be able to access the new federally-funded unemployment benefits.Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says the guidance on how to run that aspect of the new federal CARES Act has been slow to come, and that it’s also more complicated to figure out how much people should get.

"If someone is self employed there’s no reporting of earnings to the department," Fortman says, "so determining what documentation is necessary is a piece of the work that must be done."

Mainers who already qualify for unemployment under the old rules will start seeing an additional $600 a week starting early next week, Fortman says. "If you're receiving state unemployment benefits you don’t need to do anything - this will be automatically calculated into your benefits next week."

Fortman says the department is hoping for some progress in the next week or so toward getting federal benefits for others.

Last week, 13,421 Mainers filed for unemployment, according to new figures from the state's Department of Labor.  That's a big drop from the 30,889 claims filed the previous week.

Nora is originally from the Boston area but has lived in Chicago, Michigan, New York City and at the northern tip of New York state. Nora began working in public radio at Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor and has been an on-air host, a reporter, a digital editor, a producer, and, when they let her, played records.