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Business and Economy

Unemployed Mainers Should Expect Delays In Receiving Benefits From Federal Stimulus

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press file
In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, shoppers pass by a former Clark's shoe store that is now one of several vacant retail spaces among the outlet shops in Freeport, Maine.

The Maine Department of Labor says the newly signed federal stimulus bill will provide needed assistance for thousands unemployed Mainers — but many won’t receive benefits for at least a week.

The stimulus bill extends federal unemployment programs through mid-March and also provides an additional $300 per week. But the bill was signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday night, a day after the programs had already expired.

Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman says the department is now seeking information from federal officials on when exactly the programs will begin.

“We’ve heard conflicting information, and we’ve requested clarification from the U.S. Department of Labor in writing,” she says. “We’re doing everything we can to make this process as seamless as possible for Maine people.”

Fortman says federal officials have told her that at least some of the guidance should be available to states by the end of this week.

In the meantime, the department is encouraging Mainers to keep filing weekly certifications so they can receive payments as soon as possible.