FILE - Virus Outbreak Holiday Lights

Passenger vehicles move through a tunnel of holiday lights at a display set up at the Cumberland Fair Grounds, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Cumberland, Maine.  

(The Center Square) – Claims for jobless benefits in Maine increased slightly last week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

There were 1,193 new applications for state unemployment benefits filed for the week that ended Dec. 25, the agency reported on Thursday. That's 138 more than in the previous week.

Continuing state unemployment claims – which lag behind a week – totaled 6,037 in the week ending Dec. 18. That's 112 fewer than in the previous week.

New claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also ticked up slightly last week. There were 10 new PUA claims, seven more than the previous week. Two new claims were filed for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, another federal program. That's 16 fewer than in the previous week.

Meanwhile, seven claims were filed under the federal Extended Benefits program that covers jobless workers who've tapped out their regular state unemployment benefits. That's three fewer claims than in the previous week.

All three federal unemployment programs, which were created by Congress in response to the pandemic, expired on Sept. 4 but jobless workers are still filing claims for benefits.

The Labor Department's weekly report only shows first-time unemployment claims that were filed for the previous week, not those that were successfully processed. 

State labor officials have noted that the ongoing impact of the pandemic has disrupted normal seasonal buildup and layoff patterns in some sectors of the economy.

Maine 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.

The state's unemployment rate remained largely unchanged at 4.9% in October, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

There were 613,700 seasonally adjusted nonfarm jobs in October, mostly in the manufacturing, leisure and hospitality sectors, the agency said.

Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers remained largely unchanged from September to October with 33,100 job seekers, the agency reported.

Nationally, new jobless claims dropped by 8,000 to a historic low of 198,000 in the week that ended Dec. 25, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The four week average for new unemployment claims was 199,250, the federal agency said, which is the lowest average since the week of Dec. 25, 1969.

Continuing unemployment claims, which lag behind a week, dropped by 140,000 to about 1.71 million nationally for the week that ended Dec. 18, the agency said.

Overall, more than 2.17 million Americans were still receiving state or federal jobless benefits in the week ending Dec. 11, according to the report.