April 22, 2021
For Immediate Release: April 22, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending April 17
AUGUSTA - For the week ending April 17, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,700 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). In total, approximately 2,000 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
About 14,400 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 13,200 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 17,400 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15, 2020 and April 17, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2.1 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.
The Department has handled approximately 252,800 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 110,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 3.8 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
CareerCenter services - https://lnks.gd/2/TVLBRv are available to help people identify and take their next steps to employment or training. It is a requirement that those receiving unemployment insurance benefits also be registered on the Maine JobLink, which includes a weekly newsletter for job seekers highlighting opportunities and training.
Routine ReEmployME Website Maintenance
On April 22, ReEmployME will undergo regularly scheduled maintenance from approximately 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. ReEmployMe online accounts, filing, and the automated phone system will be temporarily unavailable during this time.
Partial Unemployment Benefit Calculator
Did you know that it is possible to accept temporary part-time work without losing all of your unemployment benefits? As long as the claimant continues to meet their responsibilities for receiving benefits, they may be able to earn wages from part-time work and still collect a partial benefit. We have a new tool on our website that can help calculate how many hours a week someone could work and still collect partial benefits based on their weekly earnings. The calculator can be found on the below webpage, under "Looking for work?" https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/
Maine Department of Labor awarded $382K grant to promote, enhance WorkShare Program
MDOL has been awarded a $382,579 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to promote and enhance its Short-Time Compensation program, known as Workshare is an unemployment program designed to help employers avoid layoffs by allowing groups of workers to receive partial unemployment benefit payments while their employer reduces their hours. "This grant will help the Department provide outreach to employers about Maine's WorkShare program and also provides funds to implement enhancements to the program that both employees and employers have requested," Commissioner Laura Fortman said. WorkShare can be used both to prevent layoffs and to recall workers who had been temporarily laid off from the business. This program has significant benefits for both employees and employers and is one tool to help support efforts to jump-start Maine's economy. The Maine Department of Labor will use the grant funds to raise awareness of the WorkShare program and its benefits, increase participation, and streamline reporting by participating employers and workers to MDOLs Bureau of Unemployment Compensation. The grant, funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020, is part of up to $100 million in funding available to states for the implementation or improved administration of a Short-Time Compensation program. In addition, states may use funds to promote the program and enroll employers. More information about Maines WorkShare program can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/workshare/ The U.S. Department of Labors press release can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210416
Virtual Hiring Events
Employers can work with the Maine CareerCenters to hold independent virtual and drive-through hiring events.
Upcoming virtual hiring event: On April 28 from 9-11:30 a.m., Maine CareerCenters and the Sanford Springvale Chamber of Commerce are hosting the 10th Annual York County Job Fair, for jobs in the Hospitality Sector. Job seekers can register by using this online form.
More information on upcoming workshops and events: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov
MDOL Warns Public of Texting, Telegram, and Social Media Scams
The Maine Department of Labor is warning the public of scammers attempts to phish individuals personal information via social media platforms and text messages. Scammers are creating social media pages and accounts on direct message apps such as Telegram to mimic the Maine Department of Labors and are asking people to direct message them via these fake pages for unemployment help. The Department is working with social media platforms to remove the fake pages as they pop up.
For Facebook users, look for the Departments verified blue checkmark. The Maine Department of Labor will never ask for sensitive information via social media or direct messenger. Scammers are also texting the public asking them to click links for information about their unemployment benefits. The Maine Department of Labor does not conduct business via text. The Department is asking the public stay vigilant, never share personal information through social media or text, and to report fake social media pages immediately.
MDOL Recommends Unemployment Claimants Call Thursdays and Fridays
If unemployment claimants have a question about their claim, the Department recommends that they call the unemployment phone line, 1-800-593-7660, between 8 am and 3 pm Monday-Friday. Call wait times continue to decrease on all days, however Thursdays and Fridays remain the days when call volume is at its lowest and usually have shorter wait times. They can also leave a message 24/7 at https://www.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html . They should only put in one message to avoid duplication.
The U.S. Department of Labor launched a new website for people to understand unemployment insurance identity theft, and how and where to report stolen benefits if they are victims.
The new website provides key steps to help victims address issues that might arise because of previous identity theft and outlines steps to report the theft of unemployment benefits. To assist victims, the department worked closely with other federal agencies and state workforce agencies to consolidate necessary steps and resources.
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims, and to evolve its fraud prevention techniques.
During the week ending April 17, the Department cancelled 1,278 initial claims and three weekly claims suspected to be fraudulent.
The Department strongly recommends that claimants use a password that is unique to their unemployment account and is not used for anything else.
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/
All claimants are required to be registered on the Maine JobLink, a free job search tool, where claimants can upload their resumes and employers can post their job openings: https://joblink.maine.gov/job_seeker
People can also call their local CareerCenter to schedule a 1:1 appointment with a CareerCenter Consultant to explore work search activity options specific to the persons individual needs.
More information, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions on the work search requirement can be found at: https://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment
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/