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Applications For Expanded Unemployment Open Friday In Maine

After weeks of delay, the state’s Department of Labor says it will open applications for special unemployment assistance to self-employed Mainers starting Friday.

In a press release, the agency says the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program will allow nontraditional claimants, such as farmers and fishermen, gig economy workers and others, to qualify for unemployment benefits.

Department Commissioner Laura Fortman says final federal guidance on how to administer the program only arrived last Monday night, but that claims can be filed for lost revenues going back as far as March 15. The maximum weekly benefit falls at $445, but Fortman says those who qualify will in addition receive the extra $600 weekly benefit recently enacted by Congress.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.