(The Center Square) – Claims for unemployment benefits in Maine edged up again last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.
There were 1,582 new filings for state jobless benefits filed for the week that ended Jan. 8, the agency reported on Thursday. That's 169 more than in the prior week, and the second week in a row that new claims have increased.
Meanwhile, continuing state jobless claims – which lag behind a week – totaled 7,447 in the week ending Jan. 1. That's 405 more than in the previous week.
Another 10 new jobless claims were filed for the federal Extended Benefits program, which covers unemployed workers who've tapped out their regular state unemployment benefits.
The extended benefits are one of three federal unemployment programs created by Congress in response to the pandemic. While the programs expired on Sept. 4, jobless workers are still filing claims for benefits.
The weekly report only shows first-time unemployment claims that were filed for the previous week, not those that were successfully processed.
Maine labor officials say the ongoing impact of the pandemic has disrupted normal seasonal buildup and layoff patterns in some sectors of the economy.
But the state has also seen an exodus of health care workers over vaccine mandates, and is battling a surge of COVID-19 infections that continue to impact many businesses.
The state has distributed more than $2.49 billion in state and federal jobless benefits to nearly 400,000 jobless workers during the pandemic, according to state data.
Maine's unemployment rate remained largely unchanged at 4.8% in November, according to the Maine Department of Labor.
Nationally, new unemployment filings also rose with 230,000 new claims filed in the week that ended Jan. 8 – 23,000 more than the previous week according to the U.S. Labor Department.
Still, continuing jobless claims, which lag behind a week, dropped nationally by 194,000 to about 1.55 million for the week that ended Jan. 1, the agency said.
More than 1.94 million Americans were still receiving unemployment benefits in the week ending Dec. 25, according to the report.