October 7, 2021
For Immediate Release: October 7, 2021
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending October 2
Weekly claims are at the lowest level since December 2019
AUGUSTA - During the week ending October 2, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 100 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Initial unemployment claims typically begin to increase during this time of year due to seasonal layoffs. 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 750 people were filing an initial claim or reopening their unemployment claim.
About 5,900 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 100 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, about 50 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 900 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 October 2, 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 277,400 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
U.S. Labor Secretary Walsh Visits Maine, Highlights WorkShare Program
Tuesday, October 5, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin Walsh joined Governor Mills, MDOL Commissioner Laura Fortman, Speaker Ryan Fecteau, and employers and employees who have used Maine's WorkShare program to discuss how the program has helped businesses retain or bring back their workforce during the pandemic. The Roundtable discussion took place at Bowdoin College.
The program allows employers to voluntarily reduce work hours across a group of employees, rather than fully layoff a smaller subset of the employees. Workers keeps their jobs and keep benefits like health insurance. WorkShare then helps to offset lost wages with partial unemployment insurance benefits.
Workshare was also adapted to be used not just for layoff prevention, but as a reopening tool. A business that had to temporarily downsize its workforce could restart or ramp up business operations sooner by recalling their former employees at partially reduced work schedule through a WorkShare program. Temporarily laid off employees could return to their jobs sooner and collect a partial unemployment benefit to offset the initial reduction in hours.
During the pandemic, employers experience rating was not impacted by Workshare participation. The federal CARES Act funded benefits paid through this program during the pandemic, totaling over $15 million as of October 1, 2021.
- Only 26 states in the country have a WorkShare program (other states may call the program Short-Time Compensation)
- Prior to the pandemic, only 1-2 employers typically participated in the program per year
But from March 2020 through September 2021:
- 246 employers across Maine participated in the program
- 5,029 employees worked reduced hours and received partial unemployment benefits, which prevented the layoff of 3,044 people
Employers interested in the WorkShare program can find more information here: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/workshare/
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 14, 2021 from 10 a.m. - noon, the Southern Midcoast CareerCenter in Brunswick 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=5653452
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.
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 October 2, the Department cancelled 51 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/