The number of Maine residents filing initial claims for unemployment benefits has ticked upward over the past three weeks as the number of continued unemployment claims declines gradually.

According to the Maine Department of Labor, roughly 2,300 Mainers filed initial claims for federal and state unemployment aid last week, the third consecutive week with more than 2,000 new claims filed. About 2,300 Mainers filed new claims three weeks ago, followed by about 2,200 two weeks ago.

In the weeks immediately prior, Maine residents filing initial claims had fallen below 2,000 a week, including about 1,500 Mainers in the first week of September.

The number of claims filed each week in Maine generally has been higher than the actual number of claimants, which the Labor Department has attributed to overlap between state and federal aid programs. Last week, there were roughly 2,800 initial state and federal claims filed, up from 2,600 claims the previous week.

The number of continuing claims filed in Maine ticked downward slightly to 53,900 last week, about a thousand fewer claims than the week before. Those claims include state unemployment, federal benefits for contract and other self-employed workers and those not eligible for state programs, and extended benefits for those who have exceeded the normal eligibility period for unemployment pay.

Nationally, the number of initial unemployment claims declined last week to a still-high 837,000, evidence that the economy is struggling to sustain a tentative recovery that began this summer, The Associated Press reported.

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