August 13, 2020
For Immediate Release: August 13, 2020
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending August 8
AUGUSTA - For the week ending August 8, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,500 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 280 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 1,500 individuals filing an initial claim.
About 50,200 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment. In addition, about 26,800 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 8, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out about $1.35 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 179,700 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 83,200 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been about 2.03 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
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.
During the week ending August 8, the Department cancelled about 4,000 initial claims and 650 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/
Work Search Requirements Reinstated for Some Claimants Began August 9 - FAQs available on website Individuals who are permanently separated from their employer were required to start engaging in work search activities this week in order to continue receiving unemployment benefits.
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. Work search FAQs and screenshots of the weekly certification questions can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/faq/worksearch/
In response to the circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Department has expanded possible work search activities to include opportunities to enhance individual's 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/