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Maine unemployment claims declining

First-time claims for unemployment benefits in Maine dropped last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s weekly report, in a sign that the state’s post-pandemic economy and hiring is rebounding.

There were 811 new applications for state unemployment benefits filed for the week that ended July 31 – down 105 from the previous week, the federal agency reported on Thursday.

The state also reported 136 new claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a decline of three claims from the previous week, according to the report.

Continuing unemployment claims – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the jobless situation – totalled 8,063 in the week ending July 24, a drop of 176 over the preceding week.

Maine has distributed more than $2.3 billion in state and federal jobless benefits to about 380,000 jobless workers during the pandemic, according to state data.

The state’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.8% in June, according to the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL).

That’s down from a high of 9.1% last April but still higher than the state’s average 3% unemployment rate throughout 2019.

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 July 7, MDOL said it rejected at least 1,008 initial jobless claims that were suspected to be fraudulent.  

Nationally, there were 385,000 new claims filed in the week that ended July 31, a decrease of 14,000 from the previous week, according to the labor department.

Continuing claims increased by 366,000 to 2.93 million nationally for the week that ended July 24. That’s a new pandemic low, according to the federal agency.

An estimated 12.9 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending July 17, the agency reported.

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