Record breaking number of unemployment claims filed in Maine last week

(Cropped Photo: MGN Photo - Julie Chasen / MGN)(License Link)

AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) The Maine Department of Labor filed nearly 24,000 unemployment claims last week, making it the highest on record.

It's another sign of the impact of the coronavirus on Maine businesses and workers, as these claims were from people making initial contact with department.

Officials say there were about 8,700 continued claims for last week, too.

That brings the total of all claims in the system to 45,700.

For the same week in March in the last two years, an average of 800 people filed for unemployment.

Just a week prior to this new report, initial claims totaled more than 21,000.

It marked a more than 3,000% jump from normal.

The Department of Labor recommends people file their claims online with a computer, not a smart phone.

Claims representatives are handling calls Monday through Friday before 12:15 p.m. at 1-800-593-7660.

Those who are unable to connect with a representative should submit a message at maine.gov/labor/contact.

Staff are now working weekends and the department has brought back retirees to help with backlogs, tripling the amount of people answering calls.

To apply for unemployment go to maine.gov/unemployment