May 20, 2021
For Immediate Release: May 20, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending May 15
AUGUSTA - For the week ending May 15, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,200 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). In total, approximately 1,500 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
About 11,700 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 12,800 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 16,800 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 May 15, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2.19 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.
The Department has handled approximately 258,400 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 111,500 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 3.9 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
Work Search Requirements Tightening this Weekend:
The Maine Department of Labor is tightening work search requirements for people on unemployment, reinstating the traditional work search requirements as of Sunday, May 23, 2021. Maine had temporarily expanded the types of activities that would meet the work search requirement, adjusting to sudden closings, health concerns, school, childcare and other issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
Work search requirements had been relaxed because of the pandemic to include job-related education or skills development, and networking. Now people receiving unemployment will be required to actively look for work and to accept positions for which they are reasonably qualified. A refusal to accept an offer of suitable work is grounds for disqualifying a person for benefits. More information on the requirement can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/faq/worksearch/
In many cases, people receiving unemployment benefits can go back to work part-time and still retain the $300 weekly stipend offered by Congress through this summer. More information, including a walk-through video and "partial benefit calculator," can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pub/
Whether or not currently unemployed, people looking for work should visit Maine JobLink, to find thousands of jobs posted, including remote work. Employers can post their jobs by registering with the Maine JobLink.
CareerCenters host a variety of hiring events as well as one-on-one meetings with a consultant, to develop employment or training plans. The CareerCenter can be reached by email at MaineDOL.CareerCenter@maine.gov, by phone at 207-623-7981, or by live-chat at MaineCareerCenter.gov.
Employers who have tried to recall employees or have made job offers that have been declined can report those refusals by visiting the Reporting Refusal of Work web page. The Department will determine whether the individual is receiving unemployment benefits, and, if so, determine whether they should remain eligible.
Employers can also participate in the WorkShare program, which is designed to help employers avoid layoffs by allowing groups of workers to receive partial unemployment benefit payments while their employer reduces their hours. The employees are then subject to being called back when work expands.
Virtual Hiring Events
Employers can work with the Maine CareerCenters to hold independent virtual and drive-through hiring events.
Upcoming virtual hiring events:
May 21, 2021 from 2-4 p.m., Maine CareerCenters are hosting a virtual job fair for the Hospitality sector. More information: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=4578885
May 27, 2021 from 2-4 p.m., Maine CareerCenters are hosting a virtual hiring event for Emergency Services/Law Enforcement/Security Employment. More information: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=4296173
More information on upcoming workshops and events: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov
Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Program
The Maine Department of Labor began accepting applications for the new Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation Program (MEUC) on April 29, 2021.
The MEUC program was created by the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 and provides a $100 supplemental benefit to certain individuals who had both employment and self-employment prior to becoming unemployed during the pandemic. The program is payable for weeks ending January 2, 2021 through September 4, 2021.
The program is intended for claimants who had at least $5,000 in net self-employment income, however qualified for state unemployment insurance benefits resulting in their self-employment income not being included in their benefit calculation. Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are not eligible for MEUC benefits because their self-employment income has already been taken into consideration.
More information and FAQS are available on our website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment
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 May 15, the Department cancelled 351 initial 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/ada/r/
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 person's 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/