Read the Maine Complete Count Committee report for the upcoming 2020 national census Bookmark and Share

January 2, 2020

Read the Maine Complete Count Committee report for the upcoming 2020 national census at the following web page:

https://www.maine.gov/dafs/reports

Information about the US National Census Count for 2020 Bookmark and Share

January 9, 2020

Job seekers!

The U.S. Census Bureau is looking for people to assist with the 2020 census beginning this coming April. For more information about working for the U.S. Census Bureau, please click on the following link:

https://2020census.gov/en/jobs.html

To find out why the census is so important to Maine, please visit the U.S. Census Information page by clicking on the following link:

https://2020census.gov/en.html

Tips for Unemployment Claimants Bookmark and Share

January 16, 2020

Tips for Unemployment Claimants

How to avoid being locked out:

One of the most common issues reported is being locked out of a benefit account due to failed password attempts. Currently you have two attempts available to enter your password correctly. If you fail to provide the correct password a third consecutive time, your account will be locked and can only be unlocked by an unemployment representative. We recommend that if you have entered your password incorrectly twice that you use the forgot password or forgot username links provided.

As long as you have activated the email address associated with the account when the account was created, you can click on the "Forgot Password" link underneath the login boxes to have a new temporary password generated and sent to the email address on file. Refer to the section below for instructions on how to activate your email if you have not done so already. You will be able to use this temporary password to log in and will be prompted to set up a new password, personal to you, at that time. For more information, please visit the ReEmployME Login Information page at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/remelogin/

How to activate your email address in order to reset your own password:

To reset your own password, you will need to activate the email address associated with your ReEmployME account. Activating your email will also allow you to receive notifications via email when new information is added to your account, such as forms and decisions. If you have not yet activated your email address, or are not sure if you have, please do the following:

  1. Log in to your ReEmployME account.
  2. Navigate to Benefits Maintenance > Update Claimant Profile > Verify E-mail.
  3. On the next screen either enter your Verification Code received at the email address on file to activate your email or click on the word 'here' to have a new code generated and sent to the email address on file. (If you need another verification code, click here. An email will be sent to you with a new verification code.)

  4. If a new verification code is sent to you, go back to step 2 on the same screen and enter the code to complete the activation process.

You are now ready to reset your own password should you forget it. Remember to only try entering your password twice, or you will be locked out and require staff assistance to unlock your account!

Remember to file your weekly certifications every week

After you file your initial claim for benefits, in order to receive benefits, if eligible, you need to file weekly certifications. Do not wait to start filing even if there is a hold on your account pending a fact-finding or other issue. Our claim week runs from Sunday through Saturday. You can file for a week as of the Sunday following the prior week. You will need your work searches and the amount of wages earned (even if not yet paid) for the week claimed to file for the week.

  1. Log in to your ReEmployME account.
  2. Navigate to Weekly Certification > File Weekly Certification.

Please note: In order to file and complete your claim, after submitting and confirming your work search information, make sure to click the "Next" button in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Doing so will load the weekly claim questions, which have to be completed in order to file your weekly certification.

The Maine Complete Count Committee Website for the 2020 Census is up! Bookmark and Share

January 24, 2020

The Maine Complete Count Committee website is up and running for the Complete Count Committees around Maine.

The Complete Count Committees serve as state and local "Census ambassador" groups that play an integral part in ensuring a complete and accurate count of the community in the 2020 Census. Success of the Census depends on community involvement at every level. The U.S. Census Bureau cannot conduct the 2020 Census alone. The committee generates ideas and strategies to help Mainers get involved with the Census.

For more information about these committees, please visit the Complete Count Committee Website at https://www.maine.gov/ccc/

State Rehab Council Meeting Dates for 2020 Bookmark and Share

January 1, 2020

The Maine State Rehabilitation Council 2020 schedule can be found at the following website:

https://mainesrc.org/

Guidance on Coronavirus Response and Updates Bookmark and Share

March 11, 2020

Please click on the link listed below for guidelines and general information to help businesses, employers, and the public plan and respond to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Unemployment Insurance FAQs Regarding COVID-19 Bookmark and Share

March 18, 2020

Please click on the link listed below for guidelines and general information about Unemployment Insurance FAQs Regarding COVID-19.

Emergency Bill Offers New Flexibility in Maine's Unemployment Insurance Program Bookmark and Share

March 19, 2020

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020

Emergency Bill Offers New Flexibility in Maine's Unemployment Insurance Program

AUGUSTA - Maine Department of Labor (Department) will begin to implement new flexible unemployment insurance (UI) measures that will benefit both workers and businesses thanks to emergency legislation from Governor Mills that was enacted by the Legislature Tuesday night. These temporary measures will help relieve the financial burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and medically-necessary quarantine by making unemployment benefits available to individuals whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19.

"If workers do not have access to employer-provided paid time off or leave, this legislation can provide an important partial wage replacement," Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman said. This helps not only the individual but allows employers to retain their workforce and stabilize local economies.

Individuals who would otherwise be able and available to work and who maintain contact with their employer may now be eligible for UI. Anyone who has filed for unemployment benefits on or after March 15th will be reviewed under these new temporary measures. The legislation temporarily revises eligibility requirement to provide unemployment coverage in situations not typically covered, such as:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operation due to COVID-19
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work once the quarantine is over
  • An individual must take a leave of absence to care for a dependent who is affected

The legislation is not intended to provide sick leave or short-term disability payments. The legislation waives the work search requirement for individuals still connected to their employer and waives the one-week waiting period so that benefits will be available sooner. Important for businesses, any benefits paid under these provisions would not affect the employers experience rating record.

UI Claims can be filed online or by phone at: https://reemployme.maine.gov/ or 1-800-593-7660. The Department provides unemployment filing free of charge; individuals should never be asked to pay a fee to file a claim.

For more information and resources, visit the Departments COVID-19 page: https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/, and follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.

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Maine Dept. of Labor Announces Shift to Online CareerCenter Services Bookmark and Share

March 19, 2020

For Immediate Release: March 19, 2020

Maine Dept. of Labor Announces Shift to Online CareerCenter Services

AUGUSTA - In order to follow the Maine Center for Disease Control's guidance on social distancing due to COVID-19, the Maine Department of Labor announces that CareerCenter services will accessed online and by phone. The quality of services to the public will not be affected however this shift will limit in-person contact and is consistent with public health strategies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

CareerCenter services are available online at www.mainecareercenter.gov. CareerCenter staff are also available by phone; phone numbers for specific CareerCenters can be found on the CareerCenter website. The statewide line is 1-888-457-8883. There is also a "live chat" option on the website, where the public can communicate directly with a CareerCenter consultant.

Temporarily shifting to online and by-phone services will allow the public to access important CareerCenter services from their home, Commissioner Laura Fortman said. We are committed to providing important public services while maintaining health and safety of our staff and the people we serve.

In addition:

  • All CareerCenter hosted job fairs will be cancelled for the next two weeks, at which point next steps will be assessed based on circumstances.

  • SafetyWorks! Training Institute (STI) classes have been cancelled through March 27th, including classes held at satellite locations. For more information or to sign up for future classes, visit: https://www.safetyworksmaine.gov/index.shtml.

Additional information from the Maine Department of Labor about COVID-19 guidance on workplace safety and health, unemployment insurance, and employment law can be found at https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/.

The Department provides unemployment filing free of charge; individuals should never be asked to pay to file their claim.

Public Sector Enforcement Guidance for N95 Respirators Bookmark and Share

March 23, 2020

On Sunday, March 15, 2020 Governor Janet Mills signed a Civil Emergency Proclamation to Respond to COVID-19 in Maine. This Emergency Proclamation gives her the authority to suspend the enforcement of laws.

Effective March 16, 2020 the Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Standards will temporarily adopt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) enforcement guidance for N95 respirators for state and local government healthcare employers.

For more information, please click on the following link:

http://www.maine.gov/labor/docs/2020/covid19/PublicSectorN95FitTest.pdf

Dept. of Labor Posts Rules, to Hold Remote Public Hearing on Earned Paid Leave Bookmark and Share

March 25, 2020

Dept. of Labor Posts Rules, to Hold Remote Public Hearing on Earned Paid Leave

The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) has published rules for the required rulemaking process for Public Law 2019 Ch. 156, "An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave." Governor Mills signed this bill into law last year, which will go into effect January 1, 2021.

On Wednesday, March 25, the proposed rules will be published, and the public comment period will open for the Earned Paid Leave Rules. The public comment period will remain open until April 27.

The draft rules will be published at https://www.maine.gov/labor/proposedrulemaking/. The website will have an option to submit comments electronically through a submission box. Public comments may be sent online, by email to bls.mdol@maine.gov (please note that it is about Earned Paid Leave rules in the subject), or through written correspondence to Maine Department of Labor, 54 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04330-0054. All submissions require a full name as well as a place of residence.

The Maine Department of Labor is also announcing a remote public hearing on the proposed rules:

  • April 15, 2020, 5-7 p.m.

During the public hearing, anyone interested in speaking will have up to three minutes to share their thoughts on the proposed draft rules. In consideration of recent health concerns, the public hearing will be remote-access only, rather than an in-person meeting. Details on how to participate will be available on the Department's website: https://www.maine.gov/labor/proposedrulemaking/.

The bill, LD369, required the Maine Department of Labor to write rules to ensure the legislation can be implemented and enforced appropriately. The posting of the draft rules is part of MDOLs rulemaking process as well as the required Maine Administrative Procedures Act (MAPA). Once the public comment period ends, MDOL will review and respond to all public comments that were submitted. After the public comment period ends, MDOL will have 120 days to adopt the rules or release a revised set of rules based on public comments.

The legislation guarantees earned time off for employees who work for a business with 11 or more employees. Small businesses with 10 or fewer employees and seasonal employers who regularly operate less than 26 weeks in a calendar year are exempt. The law requires that an employee earn one hour of paid leave from a single employer for every 40 hours worked, up to 40 hours in one year of employment. This leave can be used for any purpose by the worker, however they are required to give their employer as reasonable notice as is possible.

The rules written will provide guidance to employers as well as workers who benefit from the earned paid time off. The Maine Department of Labor will also provide new posters to employers outlining guidance for the rule on its website.

If you would like to be updated during the process, please email bls.mdol@maine.gov and ask to be placed on the Earned Paid Time Off rules mailing list.

The effective date of this law is January 1, 2021.

A link to the chaptered law (Public Law 2019 Ch. 156) may be found at the link below: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getPDF.asp?paper=SP0110&item=4&snum=129

The Maine Department of Labor is an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available to individuals with disabilities upon request.

MDOL: Update on Unemployment Insurance in Challenging Times Bookmark and Share

March 25, 2020

MDOL: Update on Unemployment Insurance in Challenging Times

AUGUSTA - A significant number of individuals are filing unemployment insurance (UI) claims and reaching out to the Department of Labor with questions, as Mainers lose work due to COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

"The Maine Department of Labor is working as quickly as it can to process the unprecedented number of unemployment claims," said Commissioner Laura Fortman. The unemployment insurance program provides a critical economic lifeline and is experiencing extremely high volumes of claims and questions. For example, our unemployment insurance webpage had over 90,000 views on March 20, up from 1,400 a week before. We recommend that those filing a claim do so online, and we appreciate everyone's patience.

To help those accessing the unemployment system, the Department urges all to review these tips for common questions and follow the webpage links:

  • If you are unsure if you will be eligible for unemployment, we encourage you to apply. MDOL will review your application and make a case-by-case determination about eligibility. It is best to apply online; the system is available 24/7 (https://reemployme.maine.gov/).

  • MDOL has waived the work search requirement through May 14, consistent with the current duration of the temporary emergency unemployment insurance provisions signed by the Governor.

  • After the initial week that you file a claim, you must continue to file on a weekly basis.

  • The new measures are not intended to provide sick leave or short-term disability payments.

  • The waiting week has been waived as a result of the new UI legislation. If your account indicates that you have a waiting week, dont worry, ignore it. The system is being updated to reflect the new changes.

  • If your work was affected by COVID-19 the week of March 15 but you have been unable to file your claim for unemployment benefits yet, your initial claim will be accepted through the week of March 23. If eligible, you will not lose the previous weeks benefits.

  • The UI system allows two attempts to enter a password correctly; if you try a 3rd time your account will be locked. If you are unsure of your password (or have already tried twice), use Forgot Password link. A new temporary password will be generated and sent to the email address on file in your account. If you are locked out due to an incorrect password, CareerCenter staff can help you reset it: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml

  • If you live in Maine but work in a different state, and need to apply for unemployment, you apply in the state where your employer is located.

  • If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can call 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday-Friday. If you just need help filing a claim or resetting your account password, you can contact a CareerCenter by phone for assistance: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml

  • The Department recommends filing a claim on a computer, rather than a cellphone.

UI Claims can be filed online or by phone at: https://reemployme.maine.gov/ or 1-800-593-7660. The Department provides unemployment filing free of charge; individuals should never be asked to pay a fee to file a claim.

Maine Department of Labors Unemployment Insurance Program provides partial wage replacement for workers who experience job layoff, loss or reduction in hours through no fault of their own. Those applying must be able and available and looking for work. Governor Mills emergency COVID-19 legislation, signed into law March 18, enacted temporary measures will help relieve the financial burden of temporary layoffs, isolation, and medically-necessary quarantine created by COVID-19 by making unemployment benefits available to individuals who would have otherwise been able and available to work and who maintain contact with their employers. Anyone who has filed for unemployment benefits on or after March 15 will be reviewed under these new temporary measures.

For more information and resources, visit the Departments COVID-19 page: https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/, and follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.

Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act Effective April 1 Bookmark and Share

April 3, 2020

Dear Employers:

On Wednesday, April 1, the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act went into effect. This federal Act requires some employers in Maine to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19. A link to the FFCRA language can be found here: https://www.congress.gov/116/plaws/publ127/PLAW-116publ127.pdf.

The new federal requirements apply to covered employers as defined in the Act, which includes most businesses with fewer than 500 employees and almost all public employers. The Act allows for these businesses to be reimbursed for expenses they incur to provide required paid leave through a payroll tax credit. Certain businesses with fewer than 50 employees can seek an exemption. Businesses must seek this exemption at the federal level.

Employees of covered public and private employers may be eligible for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave (80 hours) at full pay and in some cases up to an additional ten weeks of emergency paid family medical leave at partial (2/3) pay.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD) is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Act. Please visit their website for more information: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ including answers to a wide range of anticipated questions from both employees and employers. You will also find posters that employers will be required to display at their worksites.

WHD will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. To view the webinar visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/. WHD invites webinar viewers to call the agencys toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions they may have. They have also provided the following website for comments and suggestions from employers, workers and the public: https://ffcra.ideascale.com/.

Information on other new developments at the state and federal levels such as a separate stimulus package-the CARES Actwill be posted and distributed when it is available. MDOL is currently waiting for additional guidance from USDOL on the implementation.

Thank you and best regards,

Laura Fortman

Commissioner, Maine Department of Labor

DVR and DBVI Offer Public Call In Via Zoom Bookmark and Share

April 24, 2020

To further aid with communication during the pandemic, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and the Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired (DBVI) are offering a public session on Thursdays from 2- 2:30. This is an opportunity for interested stakeholders to hear updates, ask questions, and make suggestions. To join the ZOOM session https://zoom.us/j/99638293857?pwd=bS85TVl2Ty9yUytraWpFMHRKbXR3UT09 Meeting ID: 996 3829 3857

Due to the public nature of the meeting, we will not be able to ensure confidentiality so we ask that issues pertaining to specific clients not be raised. Those questions should be addressed directly with the person's VR Counselor or a supervisor. If you are not sure who that person is, please call 623-6799 or email libby.stone-sterling@maine.gov (DVR) or brenda.g.drummond@maine.gov (DBVI)

Resource on How Public Benefits are Impacted by COVID-19 Bookmark and Share

May 1, 2020

The Maine Medical Center Department of Vocational Services' Benefits Counseling program has posted fact sheets to inform people with disabilities regarding how public benefits (SSI, SSDI, TANF,SNAP, etc.) could be impacted by COVID 19.

Go to https://www.benefitsandworkinme.org Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Fact Sheets.

Letter to the editor: Coverage misrepresents Maine Labor Department's role Bookmark and Share

May 20, 2020

Read MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman's Letter to the Editor in the Portland Press Herald concerning MDOL Jobless Data.

https://www.pressherald.com/2020/05/20/letter-to-the-editor-coverage-misrepresents-maine-jobless-rate/

Read MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman's Remarks to the Maine Legislature dated May 6, 2020 Bookmark and Share

June 12, 2020

Download the remarks of MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman to the Maine Legislature's Committee on Labor and Housing at the hearing of May 6, 2020.

Supporting documents

PDF version

Word version

Read MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman's letter to the Maine Legislature dated June 11, 2020 Bookmark and Share

June 12, 2020

Download MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman's letter to the Maine Legislature dated June 11, 2020

Supporting documents

(PDF) Commissioner Laura Fortman's letter to the Maine Legislature.

Maine Department of Labor Offering Workplace Training Sessions Bookmark and Share

July 14, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 14, 2020

Maine Department of Labor Offering Workplace Training Sessions

SafetyWorks! can help you prevent work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths and reduce related costs. Our safety & health consultation and training services are offered at no charge and confidential and we don't issue fines or citations.

All classes have an 18 participant limit in order to allow for social distancing. Face masks are required.

Hazard Communication/Global Harmonization and Chemical Substitution

Hazard Communication (HazCom) is one of the top-three, most frequently cited OSHA standards. It was updated in 2012 to reflect the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). Manufacturers must now evaluate the hazards of the chemicals they produce (old and new), classify them, and communicate them in accordance with specific criteria set by OSHA. Employers must train employees on GHS and on any new hazards identified based on manufacturer reevaluation of existing chemicals. Half of this class covers HazCom/GHS and the other half focuses on chemical elimination/substitution. This is the first step in addressing chemical hazards. Eliminating a hazardous chemical or substituting it with something less hazardous not only reduces employee health and safety risks, but can improve your company's bottom line.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

Machine Guarding

Participants in this class will learn about the standards for metal and woodworking machines as well as various machine-guarding techniques. We will be applying basic guarding practices when specific issues arent covered in the regulation. OSHA Subpart O will be covered.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020, 8:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

10 Hour Construction Standards

This 1-day course offers basic information on several of the OSHA standards for construction (29 CFR 1926). Attendees who complete the course will receive an OSHA 10-hour course completion certificate.

Thursday, August 6, 2020 8:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. Friday, August 7, 2020 8:30 a.m.1 p.m.

Fire Service Respiratory Protection & SCBA

This class will cover the OSHA respiratory protection standard, state statutes, and agency rules relating to the fire services use of SCBA. Other topics include written programs, medical clearances, fit testing, facial hair, two-in, two-out, annual training requirements, flow and hydrostatic testing requirements, weekly/monthly checks, the OSHA and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) rules for breathing air compressors, licensing, maintenance and recordkeeping.

Monday, August 10, 2020 8:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

OSHA Recordkeeping

This class provides thorough and comprehensive six-hour training for both new and experienced safety and human resources personnel. You will learn the OSHA rule (29 CFR 1904) regarding recording and reporting work-related injuries and illnesses as it applies to your organization. This class includes several hands-on activities on how to correctly fill out the required injury reporting forms.

Friday, August 14, 2020, 8:30 a.m.3:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

Accident Investigation/Injury Analysis

When work doesnt go as planned, accidents and near-misses happen. Investigating these incidents can prevent similar or even more serious problems from happening. Learn how to conduct a thorough accident/incident investigation and how to use your results to prevent future accidents.

Monday, August 17, 2020 8:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. Safetyworks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

Confined Space Entry: General Industry

A confined space has limited or restrictive openings for going in and out and is not meant for continuous use by workers. OSHA uses the term "permit-required confined space" (permit-space) to describe a confined space in which workers are exposed to serious hazards. Employers must find out if confined spaces are permit-required. Attendees will learn how to evaluate confined spaces, monitor them during use, and set up rescue procedures.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 8:30 a.m.12:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

Scaffolding and Fall Protection

In this class you will learn the types of scaffolding, proper setup, how to protect workers from falls, and when you must use fall protection. The instructor will explain the OSHA requirements for scaffolding and fall protection, including the definition of competent person.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020, 8:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

NFPA #1 Fire Code

This full-day course provides overview training to fire fighters and emergency response personnel. This multi-part document has 16 sections to safeguard life and protect property from dangerous conditions caused by fire and explosion. Other fire codes including NFPA 101, 57, 58, 30, 13, 25, and 72 are referred to in this code.

Thursday, August 27, 2020, 8:30 a.m.4:30 p.m. SafetyWorks! Training Institute, 45 Commerce Drive, Augusta

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 11 Bookmark and Share

July 16, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2020

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 11

AUGUSTA - For the week ending July 11, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 4,600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 3,400 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 4,400 individuals filing an initial claim.

While there is always a slight uptick in unemployment claims filed in early July due to temporary mill and factory shutdowns, because of widespread fraud attacks on unemployment insurance programs across the country, the Department is actively analyzing this increase.

About 60,000 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 23,900 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Between March 15 and July 11, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out about $1.1 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.

The Department has handled approximately 172,400 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 80,200 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been about 1.68 million weekly certifications filed.

Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision. Tomorrow morning, July 17, the Department of Labor will release monthly workforce data on the employment situation in June. That data on the change in payroll jobs and the unemployment rate provides the best indication of workforce conditions.

Fraud Update

The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.

During the week ending July 11, the Department cancelled about 300 initial claims and 1,800 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.

In total, between the week ending May 30 through week ending July 11, the Department has cancelled over 25,000 initial claims and 48,000 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.

To date, the Department has received about 19,400 unique reports of unemployment imposter fraud. This number does not include the duplicate reports that had been included in previous weeks. The Department has also reinstated almost 13,800 claims to legitimate claimants that had been flagged for potential fraud.

Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.

The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/ .

The investigation is ongoing, and new incidences of potential fraud are identified every day.

Those whose claims were cancelled for suspected fraud or whose claim has been flagged for potential fraud (showing a paid date of 9/9/9999), must verify their identity in order to reinstate the claim. To do so, claimants should go online to the ReEmployME homepage at https://reemployme.maine.gov and follow the below directions:

Select "Upload Documents for Identity Verification" located just above the login link and provide the following: TWO forms of identification (scans or photos are okay), one of which must be a government issued photo ID.

Government issued photo IDs are:

  • Drivers license
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • Federal or State employee ID

Non-photo documentation could include:

  • A recent utility bill that shows your name and residential address
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth certificate

To expedite verifications, law enforcement officers from the Maine Department of Corrections are working with the department on a temporary basis to review identity documentation. Documentation will be worked through in the order it is submitted to the Department. As claims are reviewed and determined to be valid, payments are released.

Data on initial and continued claims, benefits paid, contributions received, the balance of the unemployment insurance trust fund, as well as other information, is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html .

Note: Claims data is production numbers, and do not equal the amount of individual people filing a claim.

If you have not yet applied, you can do so at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment . Click on the ReEmployME icon in the bottom left of the page. You will be prompted to create a claimant account, after which you can submit an unemployment claim and file your weekly certifications. Dont forget to verify your email address and sign up for direct deposit. There is no separate application for PUA. The application process will make the determination of whether you are eligible for state or PUA benefits based on your answers to questions. PUA benefits are available to anyone who is self-employed and does not receive W2 wages, regardless of the profitability of your business.

The Department of Labor recommends filing your claims online with a computer, as opposed to a smartphone, and during evening hours when internet traffic is less congested. The Department has implemented an alphabetical call in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims. Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, I-Q on Tuesday; and R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and may be reached at 1-800-593-7660. Roughly 2,000 calls are answered per day. Those who are unable to connect with a claims representative should submit a message at https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact .

For more information and resources, visit the Departments unemployment page: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment .

Follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.

Work Search Requirements Now to Begin August 9 Bookmark and Share

July 16, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 16, 2020

Work Search Requirements Now to Begin August 9

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Labor has extended the date when unemployed Mainers who are permanently separated from their employer must start searching for work to August 9, 2020. Under Maine law, all unemployment claimants are required to show that they are actively seeking work in order to receive benefits. This requirement had been temporarily waived at the start of the pandemic.

Starting with the weekly certification for the week of August 9, all claimants will need to either provide information on their work search activity, or attest that they are self-employed or still connected with their employer.

Prior to the requirement being reinstated, the Department will post screenshots of what the additional weekly certification page will look like on its website and identify the questions claimants will be required to answer.

All unemployment claimants required to actively search for work must create an account on the Maine JobLink: https://joblink.maine.gov/ada/r/ . JobLink is a free job search tool, where claimants can upload their resumes and employers can post their job openings. Those who are still connected to an employer are not required to actively search for other work until after September 5. However, they must still be able and available to work for that employer if recalled.

If an employer has offered work to an employee and that employee refused the work, the employer should notify the Department. A fact-finding can be held to determine if there was good cause for the refusal of work. If no good cause is determined, then the claimant would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Employers can report refusals of work here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/ucbr/

The Department encourages all claimants to create a Maine JobLink account, update their resume, and explore online CareerCenter services. The Maine JobLink and CareerCenter services can be found here: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov .

Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Increased 19,000, Unemployment Rate Decreased to 6.6 Percent in June Bookmark and Share

July 17, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 17, 2020

Nonfarm Payroll Jobs Increased 19,000, Unemployment Rate Decreased to 6.6 Percent in June

AUGUSTA - Workforce conditions continued to recover in June from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The monthly payroll and household surveys indicate:

  • Nonfarm payroll jobs increased 19,000 in June and 33,200 in the last two months, mostly in sectors that had the sharpest job losses since February
  • The number of nonfarm jobs remained 71,300 lower than in February
  • The unemployment rate decreased to 6.6 percent
  • The labor force participation rate increased to 59.9 percent, but remained low
  • Unemployment estimates continued to understate the extent of workforce displacement

Seasonally Adjusted Estimates

Payroll Survey Estimates The number of nonfarm payroll jobs in Maine increased by 19,000 in June, the largest monthly gain on record, following a revised increase of 14,200 in May. The private sector added 19,300 jobs, primarily in the healthcare and social assistance, leisure and hospitality, and retail trade sectors, each of which had sharp job losses in March and April and began to recover in May. Private sector gains were partially offset by a decrease of 300 jobs in the public sector, mostly in local government education.

The 566,000 nonfarm jobs in June remained 11 percent lower than in February, before the pandemic began to appreciably impact the labor market. Net job losses occurred in nearly every industry sector in the last four months. The highest rates of job loss in that period were in the leisure and hospitality, information, private education, state and local government, and manufacturing sectors. The largest net job losses were in the leisure and hospitality, healthcare and social assistance, and local government sectors, where nearly two-thirds of the decrease occurred.

The Portland-South Portland metro area has had the strongest recovery in the last two months, up 4.5 percent, after the steepest decrease through April. The number of nonfarm jobs remains 13 percent lower than in February compared to 10 percent in the other two metros and non-metro areas.

Household Survey Estimates The official unemployment rate decreased to 6.6 percent from a revised rate of 9.4 percent for May and a series high of 10.4 percent for April. The number of unemployed people decreased to 44,100 for June from a revised 62,700 for May and 68,800 for April. The U.S. unemployment rate estimate for June of 11.1 percent was down from 13.3 percent for May and 14.7 percent for April.

Official unemployment estimates for the period that the pandemic has been impacting the labor market have not fully reflected the magnitude of job loss that has occurred for two reasons. The first is related to work search and availability to work. To be counted as unemployed, a person must have engaged in work search activities in the previous four weeks, and they must have been available for work. The pandemic prevented thousands of people who lost a job and wanted a new job from engaging in normal work search activities because of the stay at home order and because of personal safety concerns. If not for the fact that they could not engage in work search, nearly 29,000 more people would have been in Maine's labor force and counted as unemployed. As the table above indicates, there has been a sharp rise in the number of people not in the labor force since February.

The second issue causing estimates to understate unemployment is misclassification of people who were temporarily laid off and who expect to return to their job. Those people should have been classified as "temporarily unemployed" by survey interviewers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which establishes the parameters of the survey, has indicated that about 14,100 more people in Maine were classified as employed, not at work than usually is the case in June. BLS has indicated that those people should have been classified as temporarily unemployed.

The combined effect of these two issues is that the official estimate of the number of unemployed (44,100) is about half of the actual number of people who would be counted as unemployed if they could have engaged in work search or were not misclassified. The Maine Department of Labors Center for Workforce Research and Information has developed alternative estimates including those two additional groups in the count of unemployed for May. Adding these groups, the unofficial unemployment rate in Maine would be 12.4 percent, down from 18.0 percent in May. The comparable national rate would be 15.0 percent, down from 19.7 percent.

Data from these surveys raises certain questions about how it is collected and produced, its accuracy, and how to reconcile seemingly different indications of workforce conditions. We have provided some context to this information in a blog post - https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/employmentsituationFAQ.pdf . Please contact us if you have questions or need clarification.

Regional Household Survey Estimates The June unemployment rate estimate for New England was 13.4 percent, down from an upwardly revised 14 percent for May. Rates for other states in the region were 11.8 percent in New Hampshire, 9.4 percent in Vermont, 17.4 percent in Massachusetts, 12.4 percent in Rhode Island, and 9.8 percent in Connecticut.

Not Seasonally Adjusted Substate Estimates

Unemployment rates increased from a year ago throughout the state. Increases generally were the largest in the most densely populated counties and smallest in the least densely populated counties, with some exceptions. The regional differential in unemployment rates in June is lower than usual.

The not seasonally adjusted statewide unemployment rate estimate of 6.4 percent for June was up from 2.8 percent one year ago. Unemployment rates were lowest for Sagadahoc (5.4 percent) and highest for Oxford (8.0 percent) counties. Rates were up in all 16 counties. The largest over the year increase was in Oxford and the smallest was in Aroostook.

Among Metro Areas, the June unemployment rate was below the statewide average in Bangor (6.0 percent) and above the statewide average in Portland-South Portland (6.7 percent) and Lewiston-Auburn (6.7 percent).

July workforce estimates will be published Friday, August 21 at 10 a.m. (Data Release Schedule- https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/releaseDates.html).

This release is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/news/release.html

Labor force and unemployment data is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/laus1.html

Nonfarm payroll jobs data is available here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ces1.html

Monthly workforce estimates are cooperatively produced and released by the Maine Department of Labor, Center for Workforce Research and Information and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

NOTES

  1. Preliminary seasonally-adjusted labor force estimates, including rates (labor force participation, employment, and unemployment rates), and levels (labor force, employed, and unemployed) tend to move in a direction for several months and then reverse course. Those directional trends are largely driven by a smoothing procedure and may not indicate a change in underlying workforce conditions. Annual revisions (published in March each year) tend to moderate or eliminate those directional patterns. A comparison of 2019 preliminary and revised estimates of labor force and unemployment rates, as well as nonfarm payroll jobs, is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/2019workforcedata_revisions.pdf .

  2. The 90 percent confidence interval for statewide unemployment rates has been 0.5 to 0.7 percentage points above or below the published estimate for most months over the last four years. For June 2020 it is one percentage point.

  3. To assess job growth, we recommend looking at nonfarm jobs from the payroll survey rather than resident employment from the household survey. The payroll survey is larger, has smaller margins of error, and is subject to smaller revisions. A 2016 blog on the differences in accuracy of the two measures provides more context at www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/blogs/imprecise_data.pdf .

  4. Nonfarm payroll jobs estimates tend to be volatile from month to month because there is variability in the sample of reporting employers and their representativeness for the universe of all employers. Additionally, seasonal adjustment is imperfect because weather, the beginning and ending of school semesters, holidays, and other events do not always occur with the same timing relative to the pay period that includes the 12th day of the month, which is the reference period. This sometimes exacerbates monthly volatility. Users should look to the trend over multiple months rather than the change from one specific month to another. Estimates for the period from October 2019 to September 2020 will be replaced with actual payroll data in March 2021. Those benchmark revisions are likely to show less volatility than preliminary estimates do.

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature via ZOOM on July 17, 2020. Bookmark and Share

July 17, 2020

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature by Commissioner Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith on July 17, 2020.

Please click on the following link to view the YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GshnHAeVVcg

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 18 Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2020

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 18

AUGUSTA - For the week ending July 18, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,200 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 1,600 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 2,300 individuals filing an initial claim.

About 59,900 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 25,000 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Between March 15 and July 18, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.17 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.

The Department has handled approximately 174,600 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 81,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been about 1.77 million weekly certifications filed.

Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Fraud Update

The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.

During the week ending July 18, the Department cancelled about 1,300 initial claims and 195 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.

To date, the Department has received about 20,000 unique reports of unemployment imposter fraud. This number does not include the duplicate reports that had been included in previous weeks. The Department has also reinstated almost 15,000 claims to legitimate claimants that had been flagged for potential fraud.

Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.

The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/.

The investigation is ongoing, and new incidences of potential fraud are identified every day.

Those whose claims were cancelled for suspected fraud or whose claim has been flagged for potential fraud (showing a paid date of 9/9/9999), must verify their identity in order to reinstate the claim. To do so, claimants should go online to the ReEmployME homepage at https://reemployme.maine.gov and follow the below directions:

Select "Upload Documents for Identity Verification" located just above the login link and provide the following:

TWO forms of identification (scans or photos are okay), one of which must be a government issued photo ID.

Government issued photo IDs are:

  • Drivers license
  • Passport
  • Military ID
  • Federal or State employee ID

Non-photo documentation could include:

  • A recent utility bill that shows your name and residential address
  • Social Security Card
  • Birth certificate

To expedite verifications, law enforcement officers from the Maine Department of Corrections are working with the department on a temporary basis to review identity documentation. Documentation will be worked through in the order it is submitted to the Department. As claims are reviewed and determined to be valid, payments are released.

Data on initial and continued claims, benefits paid, contributions received, the balance of the unemployment insurance trust fund, as well as other information, is available at https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html .

Note: Claims data is production numbers, and do not equal the amount of individual people filing a claim. If you have not yet applied, you can do so at https://www.maine.gov/unemployment . Click on the ReEmployME icon in the bottom left of the page. You will be prompted to create a claimant account, after which you can submit an unemployment claim and file your weekly certifications. Dont forget to verify your email address and sign up for direct deposit. There is no separate application for PUA. The application process will make the determination of whether you are eligible for state or PUA benefits based on your answers to questions. PUA benefits are available to anyone who is self-employed and does not receive W2 wages, regardless of the profitability of your business.

The Department of Labor recommends filing your claims online with a computer, as opposed to a smartphone, and during evening hours when internet traffic is less congested. The Department has implemented an alphabetical call in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims. Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, I-Q on Tuesday; and R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and may be reached at 1-800-593-7660. Roughly 2,000 calls are answered per day. Those who are unable to connect with a claims representative should submit a message at https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact .

For more information and resources, visit the Departments unemployment page: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment. Follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.

MDOL to Update Benefits for Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients Bookmark and Share

July 23, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 23, 2020

MDOL to Update Benefits for Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) is ready to update the weekly benefit payments for Maine people currently enrolled in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. This involves matching current tax information to individual claims to pay Maine people their full benefit, retroactive to the date of their PUA eligibility. This will happen in two phases.

Launched in Maine in May, PUA is one of three new federal unemployment programs created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment, such as the self-employed, and is available through the week ending December 26, 2020.

To expedite payments to Mainers during COVID-19, MDOL approved the minimum state PUA benefit of $172 per week for all those eligible for PUA, pending the matching of updated tax information. The PUA minimum benefit amount is federally required to be half of the state's average weekly benefit.

Self-employed individuals whose net income, or other PUA recipients whose gross wages in 2019 were below $15,224 will continue to receive the minimum benefit of $172 a week, and do not need to upload any information. Individuals with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum benefit under the PUA program of up to $445 or $462 per week, depending on whether their claim was filed before or after June 1.

Updating the state benefit amounts with tax information will now occur in two phases.

  • Phase 1: Beginning this week, MDOL will automatically match claimants with available 2019 tax information to determine eligibility for a higher benefit amount. MDOL estimates that 60 percent of claimants will be matched automatically.

  • Phase 2: Any claimant whose information cannot be automatically matched will be asked to upload their supporting tax documents through their ReEmployME account. MDOL will contact these claimants through email and regular mail with instructions on how to upload this information. More information on the second phase will be available next week. Information will also be posted on the Departments website: https://maine.gov/unemployment .

Reminder: The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, or the additional weekly $600, ends with benefit payments for the week ending July 25, 2020.

Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.

"Although the economy is showing gradual improvement, we know that too many people continue to struggle," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. This increase will provide some financial relief for those who have been waiting for their full benefit amount.

Between March 15 and July 18, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.17 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature via ZOOM on July 24, 2020. Bookmark and Share

July 24, 2020

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature by Commissioner Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith on July 24, 2020.

Please click on the following link to view the YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTcG0xuV4g8

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 25 Bookmark and Share

July 30, 2020

For Immediate Release: July 30, 2020

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 25

AUGUSTA - For the week ending July 25, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 2,000 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 600 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 2,100 individuals filing an initial claim.

About 61,200 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 26,000 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Between March 15 and July 25, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.24 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.

The Department has handled approximately 176,600 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 82,500 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been almost 1.87 million weekly certifications filed.

Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision. Claims data can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html

Fraud Update

The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud. During the week ending July 25, the Department cancelled about 670 initial claims and 260 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.

Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.

The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form:

https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/

Other Updates:

Eligibility for the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, or the additional weekly $600, ended with benefit payments for the week ending July 25, 2020. This means that most people, depending on when they file their weekly certification for the week ending July 25, would receive that last payment during the week of July 26-August 1.

This is a federal program, and the Department is monitoring Congressional action for any possible extensions or changes to the FPUC program.

PUA Benefits:

The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) is continuing to update the weekly benefit payments for people currently enrolled in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. This involves matching current tax information to individual claims to pay Maine people their full benefit, retroactive to the date of their PUA eligibility.

Launched in Maine in May, PUA is one of three new federal unemployment programs created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment, such as the self-employed and gig workers, and is available through the week ending December 26, 2020.

To expedite payments to Mainers during COVID-19, MDOL approved the minimum state PUA benefit of $172 per week for all those eligible for PUA, pending the matching of updated tax information. The PUA minimum benefit amount is federally required to be half of the state's average weekly benefit.

Self-employed individuals whose net income, or other PUA recipients whose gross wages in 2019 were below $15,224 will continue to receive the minimum benefit of $172 a week, and do not need to take any action other than continuing to file weekly certifications. Individuals with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum benefit under the PUA program of up to $445 or $462 per week, depending on whether their initial claim was filed before or after June 1.

Updating the state benefit amounts with tax information will occur in two phases.

  • Phase 1: At the end of last week MDOL began automatically matching claimants with available 2019 tax information to determine eligibility for a higher benefit amount. MDOL estimates that 60 percent of claimants will be matched automatically.

  • Phase 2: Any claimant whose information cannot be automatically matched will be asked to upload their supporting tax documents through their ReEmployME account. MDOL will contact these claimants through email and regular mail with instructions on how to upload this information. Notifications will begin later this week. Information will also be posted on the Departments website:

https://maine.gov/unemployment .

Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a PUA monetary redetermination letter in the mail and in their ReEmployME account stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.

Work Search and Maine JobLink Workshops:

Under Maine law, all unemployment claimants are required to show that they are actively seeking work in order to receive benefits. This requirement had been temporarily waived at the start of the pandemic.

Starting with the weekly certification for the week beginning August 9, all claimants will need to either provide information on their work search activity, or attest that they are self-employed or still connected with their employer.

Prior to the requirement being reinstated, the Department will post screenshots of what the additional weekly certification page will look like on its website and identify the questions claimants will be required to answer.

All unemployment claimants required to actively search for work must create an account on the Maine JobLink: https://joblink.maine.gov/. JobLink is a free job search tool, where claimants can upload their resumes and employers can post their job openings. In anticipation of this requirement, MDOL is holding virtual JobLink workshops twice a week, at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These workshops walk participants through how to create and use a JobLink account.

More information on how to register for a workshop can be found at https://www.mainecareercenter.com/employment/workshops.shtml Those who are still connected to an employer are not required to actively search for other work until after September 5. However, they must still be able and available to work for that employer if recalled.

If an employer has offered work to an employee and that employee refused the work, the employer should notify the Department. A fact-finding would be held to determine if there was good cause for the refusal of work. If no good cause is determined, then the claimant would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Employers can report refusals of work here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/ucbr/

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature via ZOOM on July 31, 2020. Bookmark and Share

July 31, 2020

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature by Commissioner Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith on July 31, 2020.

Please click on the following link to view the YouTube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBhCLQDNab4

Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients Can Now Upload Tax Documentation Bookmark and Share

August 4, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 4, 2020

Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients Can Now Upload Tax Documentation

AUGUSTA - Starting today, recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), whose income documentation was not automatically matched to their claim, can upload their tax documents within their ReEmployME account to determine if they are eligible for retroactive benefits.

This follows the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL)'s action last week to begin paying retroactive benefits to eligible PUA recipients whose claims were automatically matched to their available tax documentation. This will be an ongoing process. Some 6,000 Maine people have been found eligible for retroactive payments so far.

Todays announcement is the last step in the MDOLs implementation of the sweeping federal unemployment programs that were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From March 15 to July 25, MDOL has paid $1.24 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.

"With this last piece of the federal programs now in place, those who we cannot automatically match information for are able to upload their tax documents and receive their adjusted benefits," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. As we continue to monitor Congressional action after the expiration of the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, these redeterminations provide some crucial financial relief for those eligible.

PUA is one of three new federal unemployment programs created in response to COVID-19. It covers workers previously ineligible for unemployment, such as the self-employed and gig workers, and is available through the week ending December 26, 2020.

To expedite payments to Mainers, PUA was launched in Maine in May with all eligible persons receiving the minimum state PUA benefit of $172 per week, plus the federal additional $600, pending recalculation based on their tax information. Eligibility for the FPUC (additional $600) program ended the week ending July 25.

Self-employed individuals whose net income, or other PUA recipients whose gross wages in 2019 were below $15,224 will continue to receive the minimum benefit of $172 a week, and do not need to upload any information. Individuals with higher earnings are eligible for a maximum benefit under the PUA program of up to $445 or $462 per week, depending on whether their claim was filed before or after June 1.

MDOL is currently contacting claimants whose information could not be automatically matched through email and regular mail with instructions on how to upload this information.

Guides on how to upload this information can be found on the Departments website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment .

Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.

Reminder: Since Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (the federal additional $600) was a supplement paid to individuals receiving other unemployment compensation benefits, the expiration of FPUC does not affect individuals eligibility for the underlying UI programs including state UI, or the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which remain in place for weeks of unemployment ending on December 26, 2020.

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending August 1 Bookmark and Share

August 6, 2020

For Immediate Release: August 6, 2020

Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending August 1

AUGUSTA - For the week ending August 1, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 470 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 1,700 individuals filing an initial claim.

About 53,100 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 26,400 weekly certifications were filed under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Between March 15 and August 1, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.32 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. By comparison, the Department paid out less than $74 million in unemployment benefits in all of 2019.

The Department has handled approximately 178,200 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 82,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been almost 1.95 million weekly certifications filed.

Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision. Claims data can be found here:

https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html

Other Updates:

Newly enacted federal law clarifies billing for direct reimbursable employers:

Unlike private sector employers, nonprofit and government employers can choose to either pay into the unemployment trust fund or to cover the cost of any benefits paid out directly at the time of employee separation from the employer. Private employers must contribute to the unemployment trust fund, providing support so these unemployment resources are available during economic downturns. Those employers who choose not to pay the unemployment tax are typically responsible for 100% of the cost of any benefits paid to former employees.

The CARES Act provided federal funds to reimburse 50% of the state unemployment benefits after the direct reimbursable employers paid the full cost of benefits. The Department recognized the hardship this would cause and waited to charge direct reimbursable employers for the cost of unemployment benefits.

As of August 3rd, Congress passed and the President signed a bill that stipulates states can bill and collect the 50% due from these employers directly, a more streamlined and less onerous process than had been previously required.

The Department will now be updating charges and sending out notices in the coming weeks.
As of December 31, 2019, there were slightly over 1,000 direct reimbursable employers in Maine.

Fraud Update

The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.

During the week ending August 1, the Department cancelled about 530 initial claims and 520 weekly certifications that were determined to be fraudulent.

Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.

The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/

Self-Employed and Other PUA Recipients Can Upload Tax Documentation:

As announced last week, recipients of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), whose income documentation was not automatically matched to their claim, can upload their tax documents within their ReEmployME account to determine if they are eligible for retroactive benefits.

Guides and a video on how to upload this information can be found on the Department's website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pua/taxinfo/ .

Once redeterminations are made, claimants will receive a new monetary determination letter in the mail stating what their new benefit amount is. If retroactive benefits are due for past weeks, they will be made within 14 days of the claimant receiving their PUA redetermination letter. Claimants have the right to appeal the determination if they believe the information is not accurate.

Reminder: Since Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (the federal additional $600) was a supplement paid to individuals receiving other unemployment compensation benefits, the expiration of FPUC does not affect individuals eligibility for the underlying UI programs including state UI, or the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which remain in place for weeks of unemployment ending on December 26, 2020.

Work Search Requirements Reinstated for Some Claimants Beginning August 9 Bookmark and Share

August 7, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 7, 2020

Work Search Requirements Reinstated for Some Claimants Beginning August 9

AUGUSTA - In light of relatively low rates of COVID-19 transmission in Maine and nearly all businesses open across the state, the Department of Labor is reinstating the work search requirement on Aug. 9 for some individuals receiving unemployment benefits. The requirement, which is mandated by Maine law for all unemployment claimants, had previously been extended under emergency legislation by the state Legislature at the onset of the pandemic.

"While our economy continues to gradually reopen and more people are now able to return to work, we know that many families are still grappling with the unique economic hardships caused by COVID-19," said Commissioner Laura Fortman. It is our hope that by broadening the number of eligible work search activities Maine people will have maximum opportunities to safely seek work while maintaining their benefits and the Department will continue to assess additional ways to support unemployed Mainers.

Individuals who are permanently separated from their employer must engage in work search activities beginning August 9, 2020. Individuals still connected to an employer (which includes self-employed individuals that plan to continue self-employment) are not required to actively search for work until 30 days after the state's Civil Emergency Declaration ends. With the recent extension of the civil emergency, this means that claimants who are still connected to their employer do not need to search for work until after October 3.

Starting with the weekly certification for the week of August 9 (which can be filed starting on August 16), all claimants will need to either provide information on their work search activity, or attest that they are self-employed or still connected with their employer. Prior to the new questions being added to the weekly certification on August 16, the Department will post screenshots of the updated weekly certification pages. In response to the circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Department has expanded possible work search activities to include opportunities to enhance individuals marketability during these challenging economic times. Work search activities are:

  • Attending a job fair/virtual job fair hosted by a CareerCenter
  • Participating in CareerCenter virtual reemployment services
  • Participating in a CareerCenter virtual workshop
  • Applying for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
  • Interviewing for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
  • Contacting an employer to inquire as to whether the employer is hiring
  • Participating in professional job-related education or skills development
  • Participating in networking events related to a job or occupation for which you are reasonably qualified

All unemployment claimants required to actively search for work must create an account on the Maine JobLink: https://joblink.maine.gov/

JobLink is a free job search tool, where claimants can upload their resumes and employers can post their job openings. In anticipation of this requirement, MDOL is holding virtual JobLink workshops twice a week, at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These workshops walk participants through how to create and use a JobLink account.

The CareerCenters are regularly updating and adding new workshops. Information on how to register for a workshop can be found at https://www.mainecareercenter.com/employment/workshops.shtml .

Those who are still connected to an employer are not required to actively search for other work until after October 3. However, they must still be able and available to work for that employer if recalled. If an employer has offered work to an employee and that employee refused the work, the employer should notify the Department. A fact-finding would be held to determine if there was good cause for the refusal of work. If no good cause is determined, then the claimant would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Employers can report refusals of work here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/ucbr/

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature via ZOOM on August 7, 2020. Bookmark and Share

August 7, 2020

View the Maine Department of Labor's Briefing to the Maine Legislature by Commissioner Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner Kimberly Smith on August 7, 2020.

Please click on the following link to view the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6obszP3B4Qk&feature=youtu.be