Steady Stream Of State Unemployment Claims Continue

May 21, 2020

Roughly 11,500 Mainers made their first-time claims for unemployment benefits from state and federal assistance programs last week.

Jessica Picard is a spokesperson for the state Department of Labor.

"I think we have been seeing a steady decline in initial claims, because many people who have been affected by COVID have already been laid off,” Picard says. “However it is a steady stream of claims."

The total number of new claims since the pandemic hit the state's economy in March now stands at almost 140,000 — four times the number made during all of last year. Since March 15, the Department has paid out approximately $425 million in unemployment benefits.

Picard says the state's online claims system is stable now, after some initial slowdowns. She adds, though, that even though the agency has added more than 100 people to the phone claims service, the lines are still "congested." She says more than 100 new workers will be hired soon.

New unemployment rate numbers for the state will be released Friday.