July 1, 2021
For Immediate Release: July 1, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending June 26
AUGUSTA - For the week ending June 26, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,400 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 700 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Most of the PUA initial claims are due to already existing claimants moving from the regular state unemployment program to federal PUA. These numbers represent claim applications; claims are then reviewed for eligibility and legitimacy. In total, approximately 1,600 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
Overall unemployment continued claims filed each week continue to steadily decline, down roughly 600 claims from the previous week. About 9,400 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 11,000 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 15,300 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 3,300 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 26, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2.3 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. Approximately $1.7 billion of the $2.3 billion was paid through federal unemployment programs
The Department has handled approximately 266,050 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 113,000 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 4.2 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.
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 26, the Department cancelled 128 initial claims and nine 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/
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 7, 2021 from 10 am-12 p.m., the Lewiston CareerCenter will host an outdoor in-person hiring event featuring local employers. More information: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=5110974
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.