Virus Outbreak Maine Daily Life

Commuters from Peaks Island arrive on the mainland, May 21, 2020, in Portland, Maine.

(The Center Square) – New claims for unemployment in Maine continued to recede last week, as the labor market continues to rebound from the pandemic.

At least 1,548 new applications for state jobless benefits were filed for the week that ended April 24 – a decline of 112 claims from the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's weekly report.

There were 149 new claims last week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federally backed program that covers workers who don't qualify for state benefits, in the week that ended April. That's a slight increase of 16 claims over the previous week.

Meanwhile, 13,458 continuing claims for state unemployment benefits – which lag behind a week but are viewed as a barometer of the jobless situation – were filed in the week ending April 17, a decrease of 1,166 over the previous week.

The state has distributed more than $2 billion in state and federal jobless benefits to more than 370,000 jobless workers during the pandemic, according to state data.

The state's unemployment rate stood firm at 4.8% in March after adding 4,100 jobs that month, according to the Maine Department of Labor.

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

Gov. Janet Mills has taken steps in recent weeks to ease COVID-19 restrictions and reopen the state's economy amid improving public health metrics and rising numbers of vaccinated residents.

Nationally, 553,000 new jobless claims were filed last week, a decrease of 13,000 claims from the previous week, according to the Labor Department. That's the lowest level for new claims since the week of March 14, 2020, the federal agency said.

Continuing claims increased by 9,000 to about 3.66 million nationally for the week that ended April 17, the labor department said.

Jobless workers in Maine and elsewhere have been buoyed by a $1.9 trillion relief bill, signed by President Joe Biden last month, that extended federal pandemic relief programs until September, including a $300 per week federal enhanced benefit.

More than 16.5 million Americans were still receiving state or federal unemployment benefits in the week ending April 10, a decrease of about 1 million from the previous week.