New claims for unemployment benefits in Maine continued to recede last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.
There were 557 new applications for state unemployment benefits filed for the week that ended Sept. 11 – down by 123 from the previous week , the federal agency reported on Thursday.
Meanwhile, continuing state unemployment claims – which lag behind a week – totalled 5,687 in the week ending Sept. 4, a drop of 1,086 over the previous week.
There were 104 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program created to provide benefits for those who didn't qualify for state unemployment. That's 32 fewer than the previous week, according to the report.
PUA and other federal unemployment programs created by Congress in response to the pandemic – including a $300 per week enhanced benefit – expired on Sept. 4.
Maine has distributed more than $2.4 billion in state and federal jobless benefits to nearly 400,000 jobless workers during the pandemic, according to state data.
Meanwhile, the state's unemployment system is still under attack by fraudsters and international criminal gangs who continue to file bogus jobless claims.
During the week ending Sept. 11, the state Labor Department said it rejected at least 61 initial jobless claims that were suspected to be fraudulent.
The state's unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9% in July, according to the Maine Department of Labor.
That's down from a high of 9.1% last April but still higher than the state's average 3% unemployment rate throughout 2019.
Nationally, there were 332,000 new claims filed in the week that ended Sept. 11, an increase of 20,000 from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Continuing unemployment claims, which lag behind a week, dropped by 187,000 to more than 2.66 million nationally for the week that ended Sept. 4, the agency said.
Overall, an estimated 12.1 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending Aug. 28, the agency reported.
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