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Business and Economy

Maine Unemployment Claims Edge Lower For 3rd Consecutive Week

Launched during the Great Depression, the unemployment insurance system has seen unprecedented strain during the coronavirus crisis.
Launched during the Great Depression, the unemployment insurance system has seen unprecedented strain during the coronavirus crisis.

The Maine Department of Labor Thursday reported first-time claims for state unemployment insurance benefits fell by 63 to a total of 1,169. It was the third consecutive weekly decline. It suggests fewer Mainers are facing layoffs as Maine's economy continues its recovery from last year's pandemic-induced recession.

The first-time claim numbers still aren't all the way back to pre-pandemic levels, but they're getting close. Last week's number was less than a third of the number of last January, when unemployment claims peaked in the fall-winter COVID surge. And it's nothing like the April 2020 spike during the pandemic economic shutdown. In one week, nearly 31,000 people filed for benefits overwhelming the state's system.

Another 63 people filed first-time claims last week for a federally funded program that provides benefits to freelance workers, gig economy workers, and other who might not qualify for state benefits. But the Maine Department of Labor points out that those federal unemployment benefits will end September 4. In a release, the department urges Mainers to take advantage of services and hiring events available through the state-funded CareerCenter to help find new work.