June 24, 2021
For Immediate Release: June 24, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending June 19
Overall, weekly unemployment claims continue to decrease
AUGUSTA - For the week ending June 19, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,500 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These numbers represent claim applications; claims are then reviewed for eligibility and legitimacy. In total, approximately 1,800 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
Overall unemployment continued claims filed each week continue to steadily decline, down roughly 950 claims from the previous week. About 9,600 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 11,250 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 15,400 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.
For the same time period, roughly 3,600 unemployment claimants reported having partial earnings for the week. In many cases, people receiving unemployment benefits can work part-time and still retain the $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) offered by Congress through September 4, 2021. More information, including a walk-through video and "partial benefit calculator," can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pub/
Between March 15, 2020 and June 19, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2.29 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. Approximately $1.7 billion of the $2.29 billion was paid through federal unemployment programs.
The Department has handled approximately 264,700 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 112,300 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 4.1 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 Requirement:
Individuals receiving unemployment are 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/
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 job fairs 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 https://www.MaineCareerCenter.gov .
Employers who have tried to recall employees or have made job offers that have been declined, or who have scheduled an interview and the potential employee did not attend, can report those situations by using this online form. 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.
Maine Awarded Over $5.5 Million Grant to Support Registered Apprenticeship
The Maine Dept. of Labor has been awarded a $5,594,187 State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity and Innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, effective July 1. Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a nationally recognized, portable credential.
The grant, which is part of more than $99 million awarded to 15 states, will help Maine continue to develop, modernize, and diversify its Registered Apprenticeship Program and accelerate its expansion.
In Maine, there are currently 948 registered apprentices and 263 participating businesses. This grant recognizes the effectiveness of the Registered Apprenticeship model in providing a successful career pathway to high-wage occupations, Commissioner Laura Fortman said. It also provides critical funding to begin expanding this learn while you earn training method, making it available to more people and businesses.
The grant will focus on expanding apprenticeship in high wage and in-demand occupations in healthcare and infrastructure, such as broadband and renewable energy, and to embed diversity, equity, and inclusion practices within these expansion efforts. Outreach efforts will stress recruiting women, people with disabilities, people of color, and justice involved individuals.
U.S DOL's Employment and Training Administration awarded more than $99 million in State Apprenticeship Expansion, Equity and Innovation grants - ranging from $2 million to $10 million to bolster states efforts to expand programming and inclusive recruitment strategies to attract a diverse workforce. The awards include more than $85 million for states that demonstrated a commitment to increase their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. These grants also aim to develop partnerships with new industries and non-traditional occupations, including industry sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, and align Registered Apprenticeships with other work-based learning opportunities within state education and workforce systems.
The U.S. DOL press release can be found here: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20210622
MDOL Partnering with ID.me to Help Protect Unemployment Claimants
Along with states across the country, the Department has partnered with trusted technology partner ID.me to help bolster current fraud prevention measures and protect unemployment claimants.
ID.me is a secure and safe national portal that Maine will be using to verify the identity of unemployment claimants in our ongoing efforts to detect and prevent fraudulent unemployment claims. This identity verification integration is in addition to current fraud prevention measures and will help to ensure claimants identities are verified before their claim is processed.
Who will be asked to verify their identity?
A claimant may be selected to provide proof of their identity through the secure portal for one of two main reasons:
- Their claim was reviewed and contains elements that have been seen in confirmed ID Theft claims. To ensure the claim is legitimate and benefits will be paid to the actual claimant, providing proof of their identity through the ID.me portal may be required.
- Per federal guidance in the Continued Assistance Act of 2020, all new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed after January 31, 2021 are subject to identity verification.
If a claimant must submit ID verification documents, notification will be added to their ReEmployME account, and instructions for completion of the process may be found under Correspondences in their account, as well as sent via regular mail.
They will be asked to create an ID.me account and begin the identity verification process. The Department recommends that claimants create a unique username and password that they have not used for anything else.
Once they complete the identity verification process, the result will be sent back to the Department in real-time. If there are no other issues, the Department will move forward with their claim. If there is still a question about their identity after completing the verification process, ID.me may reach out to the claimant directly for next steps.
ID.me also partners with many federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, and Department of the Treasury. Many other states have partnered with ID.me to help prevent unemployment benefit fraud. According to ID.me, almost 70% of the countrys population is now using the service to verify for unemployment benefits.
More information on the process is on our website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment
The U.S. Department of Labor launched a 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 June 19, the Department cancelled 811 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/
Back to Work Program Employer Application Available
On June 14, Governor Mills announced the creation of the new Back to Work program, aimed at getting unemployed Maine people back into the workforce. The employer application for the program is now available, and can be found here along with FAQs: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/back-to-work-grants
The Back to Work program, administered by the Maine Department of Labor and the Department of Economic and Community Development, will provide employers a one-time $1,500 payment for eligible workers who start jobs between June 15 and June 30 or a $1,000 payment for eligible workers who start jobs in July to encourage unemployed Maine people to return to the workforce. The first-come, first-served program will utilize $10 million in Federal funding and could reach up to 7,500 Maine people.
To be eligible, people must: 1. Have received unemployment compensation for the week ending May 29, 2021; 2. Accept a full-time job that pays less than $25 per hour and remain in the job for a period of at least eight consecutive weeks, and; 3. Not receive unemployment compensation during the eight-week period of employment.
The program began on June 15, 2021, and applications will be accepted through July 25, 2021. Once the employee has worked for eight weeks, the employer will provide documentation of the completion of the requirement and grant funds will be issued to the employer to be passed through to the employee.
Employers can work with the Maine CareerCenters to hold independent virtual, in-person, or drive-through hiring events. Information on upcoming workshops and events: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov
Upcoming hiring event: On July 1, 2021 from 2-4 p.m., Maine CareerCenters are hosting a virtual hiring event featuring jobs in the Medical/Medical Staffing/Home Care fields. More information: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=4296178
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.