MAINE, USA — On a weekly average in Maine, prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Maine would see anywhere between 600 - 1,300 first-time unemployment claims in any given week.
For four weeks, however, Maine has seen the most initial unemployment compensation claims in state history due to the coronavirus pandemic. And for three of those weeks, the numbers continued to surge.
Finally, for the week of April 11, 2020, the number of claims went back down.
Here's a look at the numbers for the past four weeks:
March 14, 2020 - 634 initial claims
March 21, 2020 - 21,459 initial claims
March 28, 2020 - 23,761 initial claims
April 4, 2020 - 30,889 initial claims
April 11, 2020 - 13,421 initial claims
COVID-19 has caused significant hardship for economies across the world and throughout the United States. Maine is no different. The economic crisis hit public-facing businesses such as restaurants, hotels, and bars earliest and hardest.
Another spike in unemployment claims could happen when Maine’s unemployment office expands eligibility to include contractors and the self-employed, according to the Portland Press Herald. It is not yet clear when that expansion is expected.
“Unemployment benefits provide a lifeline to people who are out of work for reasons beyond their control. The benefits are often used to pay rents, utilities, and for groceries and other basic necessities. These dollars that are spent in our communities help to support the local businesses. In the last four weeks, the department has paid out over $46 million in benefits,” said the Maine Department of Labor Commissioner Laura Fortman. “In addition to the state unemployment benefits, next week’s payments will also include the additional $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits.”
Filing for Unemployment
The Department of Labor is recommending that people file their claims online with a computer as opposed to a smartphone and do so in the evening when internet traffic is less.
The Department has implemented an alphabetical call-in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and process claims. Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, I-Q on Tuesday; and R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.
NEWS CENTER Maine has a breakdown of that schedule HERE.
- To apply for unemployment: www.maine.gov/unemployment
- Phone: 1-800-593-7660 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday-Friday
- For password resets and basic questions through a CareerCenter: https://www.mainecareercenter.gov/locations/index.shtml
- More information: https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: www.newscentermaine.com/coronavirus.
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