U.S. Labor Department Announces Release of $28.2 Million in Unemployment Insurance Modernization Incentive Funds to Maine Bookmark and Share

July 29, 2009

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today certified for release $28,231,263 in unemployment insurance (UI) modernization incentive funds to the state of Maine. Maine qualified for its full share of the funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act or ARRA) by providing for a variety of provisions that make it easier for recent entrants to the workforce, workers seeking part-time work and people who are upgrading their skills to be eligible for benefits.

"Maine already had made several updates to its UI program to better meet the needs of recent entrants to the workforce and workers seeking part-time work," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The state now has updated its law to assist more workers who need training to become re-employed. These are the right things to do for workers and are good for the state's economic recovery."

The Maine Department of Labor can use the funds to pay unemployment benefits or, if appropriated by the legislature, for administering its unemployment insurance program or delivering employment services.

Federal and state officials had the following comments about this announcement:

"As hard-working families in Maine continue to grapple with the unprecedented challenges of the languishing economy, many continue to experience the scourge of lengthy unemployment, often through no fault of their own," said Sen. Olympia J. Snowe. "The ARRA contained measures originally put forth by Sen. Kennedy and me in the Unemployment sModernization Act that would greatly augment Maine's already contemporary unemployment programs. With this funding, our state will be better equipped to assist jobless workers until they are able to get back on their feet and into the workforce."

"During this economic downturn, this unemployment modernization funding is critical to provide Mainers with improved coverage should they become unemployed and to help ensure that they can continue to provide for their families. This funding will prove to be truly beneficial toward the ongoing struggle of unemployment in Maine," said Sen. Susan Collins.

"I am pleased that the state of Maine has received this critical Recovery Act funding to support our efforts to provide benefits for laid-off workers," said Gov. John E. Baldacci. "With strong bipartisan leadership of the legislature, Maine was able to make important improvements to our unemployment insurance program. The program changes recognize the needs of today's laid-off workers, and the additional funds strengthen this essential safety net."

"This funding will provide much needed assistance to those unemployed Mainers during this difficult time," said Rep. Mike Michaud, who represents Maine's 2nd Congressional District. "This is an enormous step forward in providing our workers the relief they need to get back on their feet. I want to thank Secretary Solis for moving so quickly by giving Maine the additional tools it needs to help workers."

"When we passed the Recovery Act, our highest priorities were getting money into the economy and helping individuals who have been hardest hit by the recession. This funding does just that and comes at a critical time for Maine," said Rep. Chellie Pingree, who represents Maine's 1st Congressional District.

The Recovery Act made a total of $7 billion available in UI modernization incentive payments to states that include certain eligibility provisions in their UI programs. Each state can qualify for a share of those funds by showing that its law includes those provisions. Maine's approved application will be posted at the department's Employment and Training Administration Web site at http://www.doleta.gov/recovery/. Other approved applications can also be found on this site.