July 29, 2021
For Immediate Release: July 29, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending July 24
AUGUSTA - For the week ending July 24, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 900 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 1,200 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
Overall unemployment continued claims were down about 1,600 claims from the previous week. About 8,200 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 9,700 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 14,500 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 3,100 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/
Reminder: Federal unemployment benefits end on September 4, 2021. The Department recommends that claimants take advantage of CareerCenter services. 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 .
Between March 15, 2020 and July 24, 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 270,600 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 113,400 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 4.3 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 - https://joblink.maine.gov/, to find thousands of jobs posted, including remote work. Employers can post their jobs by registering with the Maine JobLink.
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 at this online form- https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/ucbr/ . 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 - https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/workshare/ , 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.
IMPORTANT: Some PUA Claimants must provide proof of employment by August 4
It is a recent federal requirement that anyone who has received PUA benefits beginning with week ending January 2, 2021 must submit proof of employment. This is to show that a claimant was either employed or self-employed when they became unemployed as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and filed for unemployment benefits.
We sent affected claimants a notice on May 6, 2021 requesting that they submit proof of employment no later than August 4, 2021. This notice and instructions can also be found in their online ReEmployME account. We have also sent reminder emails to those who have not yet uploaded their information through the portal.
The Department asks that affected claimants submit their proof of employment as soon as possible to avoid a possible denial and overpayment of PUA benefits. An overpayment determination would require a claimant to repay any benefits they may have received since the week ending January 2, 2021.
More information and, including a walk-through video, can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/puaemployment/ .
If a claimant has already submitted the verification documents, they do not need to do so again unless they hear from the Department that it was insufficient. If they submitted documents and received a denial decision, they have the right to appeal - https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/appeals/ .
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 August 4, 2021 from 10 am-12 p.m., the Brunswick CareerCenter will host an outdoor in-person hiring event featuring local employers. More information and a list of participating employers can be found here: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=5214101
Unemployment Texting Scam Alert
The Maine Department of Labor is warning the public of scammer's attempts to phish individuals personal information via text message while posing as the Department. They will usually include links claiming to lead to information about unemployment benefits, which do not end in '.gov.
The Department is asking the public stay vigilant - it does not conduct business via text and will never ask for sensitive information via social media or text message. If an individual receives a text message about unemployment benefits, or from someone claiming to be the Department of Labor or Bureau of Unemployment Compensation, it is a scam and should be ignored.
The U.S. Department of Labor has a website - https://www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/UIIDtheft for people to understand unemployment insurance identity theft, and how and where to report stolen benefits if they are victims.
The 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 July 24, the Department cancelled 467 initial claims and two 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/
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.