Seven months into the pandemic, hundreds of Mainers continue to file for state and federal jobless benefits each week, although last week’s claims were down slightly from the previous week.

About 1,600 individuals in Maine filed a new state or federal unemployment claim or reopened a previous claim last week, the Maine Department of Labor reported Thursday. The number of claimants was down from about 2,000 the previous week.

There were roughly 1,300 claims filed for state unemployment insurance and 500 claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, available to those who do not qualify for state benefits. State reports often show more claims than claimants because of duplicative records.

Roughly 45,000 continuing claims, also known as weekly certifications, were filed last week among state and federal benefit programs, the department reported.

Nationally, the number of new unemployment claims fell last week to 787,000, a sign that job losses may have eased slightly but are still running at historically high levels, The Associated Press reported. Job growth has slowed for three straight months, leaving the economy still 10.7 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level.

The federal unemployment rate was 7.9 percent in September, according to the U.S. Labor Department, while Maine’s jobless rate was 6.1 percent. Still, economists said the official jobless rates don’t capture all unemployed workers, because many have stopped looking for jobs.

The state Labor Department said that between March 15 and Oct. 17, it has paid out over $1.6 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits in Maine.

The department has handled roughly 193,400 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 94,900 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. There have been over 2.6 million weekly certifications filed, it said.


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