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Maine unemployment hits pre-pandemic low

Weekly claims fell to their lowest level since November 2019.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editors note: The above video is of Governor Mills announcing the first allocations of relief funds for small businesses. Thousands of Maine's small businesses may be seeing some help from Augusta and Washington as the latest round of COVID relief money begins to flow across Maine.

The Maine Department of Labor released its weekly numbers on Thursday and the news is good. Since November of 2019, the lowest number of people are receiving unemployment benefits. 

About 3,400 people received unemployment during the week ending Oct. 16. That was a decrease of about 400 people from the previous week. 

 During the week ending October 16, the MDOL recorded about 600 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, representing a decrease of about 200 claims from the previous week. 

Between March 15, 2020, and October 16, 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.

Credit: MDOL

The Department has handled approximately 278,750 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 114,650 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

For the same time period, roughly 800 unemployment claimants reported having partial earnings for the week. People who are working part-time and working back to their full hours may be eligible for partial benefits

The same is true of the national unemployment numbers which also saw a new low point since the pandemic erupted.

Unemployment claims dropped 6,000 to 290,000 last week, the third straight drop, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the fewest people to apply for benefits since March 14, 2020, when the pandemic intensified. Applications for jobless aid, which generally track the pace of layoffs, have fallen steadily from about 900,000 in January.

About 7 million people lost jobless benefits in September after two emergency programs, set up in March 2020, expired. One of the programs provided aid to gig workers and the self-employed, who traditionally are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance, and the second covered workers who have been unemployed for longer than six months. And an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits expired nationwide Sept. 6.

A year ago, nearly 24 million people nationally were getting unemployment aid.

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