September 30, 2021
For Immediate Release: September 30, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending September 25
AUGUSTA - During the week ending September 25, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 500 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The PUA initial claims were those that were originally filed under the regular state program in a prior week, subsequently found ineligible for state unemployment, and then moved to the PUA program. These PUA claims have an effective date prior to the close of the program. The initial claims numbers represent claim applications; claims are then reviewed for eligibility and legitimacy. In total, approximately 700 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
About 6,800 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 100 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 100 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. Weekly claims are filed after the end of the actual week. Therefore, the claims filed this week for the federal PUA and PEUC programs were for weeks ending September 4 or earlier. Eligibility for benefits is determined on a weekly basis, and so not all weekly claims filed result in a benefit payment. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
For the same time period, roughly 1,100 unemployment claimants reported having partial earnings for the week. Claimants who are working part-time and working back to their full hours may be eligible for partial benefits. More information, including a walk-through video and "partial benefit calculator," can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pub/
Federal unemployment benefits ended on September 4, 2021. This covers the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits. Claims for weeks that end on or before September 4, 2021 will still be paid after that date, assuming all eligibility criteria are met.
The Department recommends that claimants take advantage of CareerCenter services. CareerCenters host a variety of hiring events - https://www.mainecareercenter.com/employment/hiringevents/ , 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 September 25, 2021, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $2.49 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits. Approximately $1.88 billion of the $2.49 billion was paid through federal unemployment programs.
The Department has handled approximately 276,800 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 114,500 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Note: Claims do not equal the number of unique unemployment claimants. There have been over 4.5 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 by using 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.
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 October 6, 2021 from 10 a.m. - noon, the Lewiston CareerCenter will host an outdoor hiring event, featuring a variety of local employers and industries. More information can be found here: https://www.mainecareercenter.com/locations/jobfair.shtml?id=5653450
Per State Law, Maine's Minimum Wage to Increase to $12.75 Per Hour in 2022
Pursuant to Maine law (Maine statute 26 MRS 664), effective January 1, 2022, the state minimum wage will increase from $12.15 to $12.75 per hour, based on data recently made available by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maine law requires annual adjustments to the minimum wage based on the cost of living index (CPI-W) for the Northeast Region.
In addition to the minimum wage, the new "tip wage," or service employee minimum wage, in 2022 will be $6.38 per hour. This means that service employees must receive at least a direct cash wage of $6.38 per hour from the employer. The employer must be able to show that the employee receives at least the minimum wage of $12.75 per hour when the direct wage and tips are combined at the end of the week. More information on the service employee minimum wage can be found here: http://legislature.maine.gov/statutes/26/title26sec664.html
The minimum salary threshold for exempting a worker from overtime pay is also based on the minimum wage. Starting January 1, 2022, the new minimum salary threshold is $735.59 per week, or $38,251 per year. This is only one of the factors used in determining whether a worker is exempt from overtime pay under federal or state law. An individual can earn more than the minimum salary threshold and still be eligible for overtime. The duties of each worker must be considered as part of this analysis. The law can be found here: http://legislature.maine.gov/legis/statutes/26/title26sec664.html More information can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/wagehour.html
The Departments Bureau of Labor Standards is responsible for enforcing the states minimum wage and overtime statutes and ensuring that both workers and employers understand and comply with the law.
If youre a worker who feels that your rights have been violated, or an employer who has questions or would like to know more about the Departments free trainings, please call 207-623-7900, email email@example.com, or visit https://www.maine.gov/labor/bls/index.shtml .
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 September 25, the Department cancelled 49 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/ .
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.