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Business and Economy

As U.S. jobless claims fall to lowest level of the pandemic, Maine's claims rise. Officials cite seasonal layoffs

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.

First time claims for state unemployment benefits rose in the week ending Oct. 9, even as the numbers declined nationally.

The Maine Department of Labor cited normal, seasonal layoffs for the increase to 800 first-time claims, from 600 the week before. The the number of people filing new, or continuing claims for benefits last week totaled about 5,400. The department said that was the lowest number since December 2019.

In addition 80 people who freelance or otherwise don't qualify for state unemployment benefits, filed first-time claims under a special federal, pandemic assistance program. While that program stopped paying benefits in September, people who qualify can still claim benefits for weeks the program was in effect.