AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - New unemployment claims rose slightly in Maine last week as the coronavirus pandemic continued to complicate the jobs picture in the state and around the country.
The Maine Department of Labor reported 1,600 initial claims for state unemployment insurance for the week that ended March 27. That was an increase from 1,400 claims the previous week.
The agency also reported 400 initial claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during the same week. That number increased from 300 the previous week. However, the total number of people who filed an initial claim or reopened a claim fell from 2,500 to 2,400.
Nationally, the number of unemployment benefits claims rose by 61,000 last week to 719,000.
Maine’s unemployment rate was 4.8% for February, which was more than it was in February 2020, but less than the national rate of 6.2%.
In other pandemic news in Maine:
Maine’s daily cases of the coronavirus are continuing to rise. The state is slated to expand eligibility for the coronavirus vaccine to everyone 16 years of age and older on April 7 in a bid to reverse that trend.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 197.71 on March 17 to 228.29 on March 31. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.57 deaths per day on March 17 to 1.86 deaths per day on March 31.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday it has reported 51,189 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. The agency has also reported 744 deaths.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said earlier this week that Maine will receive about $17.1 million to help its seafood industry.
The seafood industry in Maine and around the country has suffered losses due to problems caused by the pandemic such as the disruption of the restaurant market. The state also received more than $20 million to help the industry last year.
The funding is designed to help businesses such as commercial fishing enterprises, aquaculture operations and seafood processors.
“Our priority is to award these funds as quickly as possible using existing processes established under the CARES Act,” said Paul Doremus, acting assistant administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service.
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