Mainers left jobless because of the coronavirus pandemic will get a one-time $600 payment ahead of the holidays.
On Monday night, the Maine Department of Labor dispersed the relief to about 40,000 Mainers who were set to exhaust or lose their benefits with the expiration of federal relief programs.
“We are pleased to announce the distribution of this one-time emergency relief payment to families across Maine,” said Maine’s labor commission, Laura Fortman. “While this payment is a start, we are also pleased by the passage of bipartisan COVID-relief legislation, to ensure Maine people can provide for the basic necessities for themselves and their families. The Department will work to implement any federal changes to unemployment programs as quickly as possible after they are passed into law.”
Newly jobless Mainers who filed a claim or reopened an existing claim filed on or after Dec. 13 won’t qualify for this one-time boost, the department said.
That comes after Congress finally passed a $900 billion pandemic relief bill after months of debate. The bill includes another round of direct payments to Americans and a $300 weekly supplement for left jobless because of the pandemic. It now awaits President Donald Trump’s signature.
Maine’s jobless rate rose slightly last month to 5 percent. That’s down from a high of 10.4 percent in April, but up sharply from 3.2 percent in February.