Maine Department of Labor Releases Initial and Weekly Unemployment Claims Data for Week Ending April 4 Bookmark and Share

April 9, 2020

For Immediate Release: April 9, 2020

Maine Department of Labor Releases Initial and Weekly Unemployment Claims Data for Week Ending April 4

AUGUSTA - Initial claims for unemployment compensation were approximately 30,900 in the week ending April 4. For context, initial claims averaged close to 800 in the same week in 2018 and 2019. Total claims for the week, both initial and continued claims, increased to 72,200 from 45,700 the previous week.

Claims data is released each Thursday at 8:30 a.m. Data is preliminary, subject to revision in following weeks. Data on claims, the balance of the trust fund, and other information is available at The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused significant economic hardship for Maine people and job losses across the state, particularly in the food services and lodging, health care and social assistance, retail trade, manufacturing, and entertainment and recreation sectors.

"The over 76,000 initial claims filed over the past three weeks are a significant increase from 2019, when there were approximately 35,000 initial claims filed over the course of the entire year," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. There are an unprecedented number of claims being filed, and staff continue to work tirelessly to process claims as quickly as possible. Last week, over 10 million dollars in benefits were distributed to laid off Maine workers.

This is the highest weekly total on record for the third week in a row. Initial claims totaled about 23,700 and 21,500 the previous two weeks. Continued claims for the week increased to 41,300 from the previous week's 22,000 claims.

The Department of Labor recommends that people file their claims online with a computer as opposed to a smartphone and do so in the evening when internet traffic is less. To address high claims volume starting this week, those seeking to file for unemployment by calling the 800 number should use the following schedule: --Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, with names beginning with I-Q on Tuesday; and those beginning with R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

Those who are unable to connect with a claims representative at the times above by calling 1-800-593-7660 before 12:15 p.m. Monday through Friday should submit a message at

The Department of Labor is implementing solutions to the challenges created by the sudden and unprecedented levels of questions and claims to meet the needs of Maine people. Claims staff are working over the weekend to process applications and contacting claimants who have errors on their applications, CareerCenter staff can reset passwords and handle questions via Live Chat, and the department has hired new staff and brought back retirees. By pulling staff from other areas of the department, we have tripled the number of people answering calls. The online unemployment system, which Maine implemented a few years ago, is performing as designed and is available 24/7.

To apply for unemployment: 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Monday-Friday For password resets and basic questions through a CareerCenter:

For more information and resources, visit the Departments COVID-19 page: Follow the Maine Department of Labor on Facebook @MElabor and Twitter @maine_labor.