Laura Fortman

Most small businesses in Maine have been struggling due to the pandemic. Governor Mills has announced a $200 million grant program offering financial relief to small businesses and nonprofits, with grant applications due Sept 9th. We'll learn about how small businesses are faring, especially during the summer tourist season, and how they can access relief funds and other aid during these difficult times.

Maine Public

The Maine Department of Labor announced Friday that it is reinstating work search requirements for some individuals receiving employment benefits.

The latest information about unemployment issues in Maine. We'll discuss the effects of job losses due to the pandemic and whether people are getting back to work. We'll also learn about the latest extension of unemployment benefits, how claims processing is going, and what's happening with the large numbers of fraudulent cases.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP File

A half-dozen Republican members of the Maine House of Representatives are calling for a special session of the legislature to deal with spending and other issues related to the pandemic.

Nick Woodward / Maine Public

Members of the Maine legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee met in person and electronically with Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman Wednesday afternoon in an unusual hearing on the state's response to the surge in unemployment applications. Committee members had dozens of questions about the problems with providing benefits to tens of thousands of Mainers who've lost work as a result of the pandemic.

Maine Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman will appear before the Legislature’s Labor and Housing Committee Wednesday to talk about the state's efforts to get unemployment to Mainers who have lost income because of COVID-19.

Self-employed and contract workers in Maine will be able to apply for unemployment starting Friday morning at 8 AM, as the state rolls out its anticipated Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Robert F. Bukaty / AP Images

The pace of first-time claims for unemployment in Maine slowed last week, but at about 13,000, are still well above the numbers before the pandemic, which were generally in the hundreds per week.

Robert F. Bukaty / Associated Press

It will likely be at least a week before Mainers who do freelance work, or have already used all their unemployment for the year, will be able to access the new federally-funded unemployment benefits.

All over the country, and in Maine, the coronavirus crisis has caused businesses to shut down and workers to find themselves with no source of income. We find out what government aid is available, how to apply for it, and what other avenues people have for help in this time of need.

This show will air from 1-3 pm as part of Maine Calling's special coverage of the impacts of COVID-19 on the people of Maine.

With businesses suffering or closing, and people losing their sources of income and livelihoods, what can be done? We speak with Maine's labor and economic leaders to learn how the state is trying to face the challenges of helping to keep workers and businesses afloat amidst the coronavirus emergency.

AUGUSTA, Maine - The Maine Department of Labor wants the public to be aware of a number of phony websites hocking specious help with filing for unemployment insurance.

Maine’s unemployment rate now stands at less than 3%. But if you were to add in other categories of the labor force, such as part time workers seeking full-time jobs, and people who have given up trying to find work, the number of unemployed Mainers swells to over 20,000, which is nearly 7%. The state Department of Labor says it is trying to match all of those people with either jobs, or training programs that will lead to jobs. Maine Public’s Mal Leary spoke with Commissioner Laura Fortman about how those efforts are going.

Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman joins us to discuss pressing topics ranging from paid time off, minimum wage, workforce shortage, equal pay, immigrant employment, and more. In her role, she oversees the state’s labor standards, employment and training, unemployment insurance, labor market information and vocational rehabilitation. Fortman brings more than 20 years of public policy and advocacy experience to the Department of Labor.


This is a rebroadcast of an earlier show (original air date July 16, 2019); no calls will be taken. 

Many businesses in Maine are having a difficult time finding workers—particularly during the busy summer season. We’ll hear from the state economist, the Maine Commissioner of Labor, and the President and CEO of Hospitality Maine about how big of a worker shortage there is and what, if anything, can be done to address it.