A man walks by a shop with a "going out of business" sign on High Street in Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Mainers filed more than 2,400 jobless claims for the week of Oct. 4-10, according to data released Thursday by the Maine Department of Labor. Of those, 1,500 were for traditional state benefits and 914 were for benefits under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal program Congress approved in late March as part of a coronavirus-relief package.

That represents 2,000 people who filed claims last week. To qualify for the federal jobless benefits, Mainers must first be denied state benefits before they can apply for them under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which extends benefits to those who traditionally don’t qualify for them, such as the self-employed or independent contractors.

Additionally, Mainers filed nearly 50,170 applications to continue receiving jobless benefits: 19,100 for state jobless benefits, 16,050 for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, 14,200 for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment program and 820 for state extended benefits.

That represents a slight decrease in continued jobless claims from the previous week, when 53,900 Mainers sought to renew benefits. But that still remains well above the high seen in April 2009 during the Great Recession, when 28,564 out-of-work Mainers sought to continue receiving jobless benefits.

Since March 15, Mainers have received $1.6 billion in jobless benefits, according to the Department of Labor. It paid out nearly $74 million in all of 2019.

On Thursday, labor officials said that 249 new and one continued jobless claims were canceled due to fraud for the week ending Oct. 10.

Maine’s unemployment rate fell to 6.9 percent in August from 9.9 percent in July. That compares with about 3 percent in March and 2.9 percent a year ago. The economic slump brought on by the coronavirus pandemic ended a 39-month streak of unemployment below 4 percent.

Nationally, 898,000 Americans filed new jobless claims for the week ending Oct. 10 which was up 53,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 898,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The national jobless rate fell to 8.4 percent in August as the U.S. economy added 1.4 million jobs. That’s down from 10.2 percent in July. The national jobless rate peaked at 14.7 percent in April before falling unexpectedly to 13.3 percent in May. That is still well above February’s 3.5 percent, a nearly 50-year low.