In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, a shopper walks by one of several vacant retail spaces among the outlet shops in Freeport, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUGUSTA, Maine — New unemployment claims rose again in Maine despite an increase in hiring around the country.

The Maine Department of Labor reported 2,100 initial claims for state unemployment insurance for the week that ended April 3. That was an increase from 1,600 claims the previous week.

However, the agency also reported 200 initial claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance during the same week. That number decreased from 400 the previous week. The total number of people who filed an initial claim or reopened a claim rose from 2,400 to 3,000.

The labor department said the increase in unemployment claims in Maine is due to layoffs in sectors such as retail trade and food services. Seasonal layoffs in sectors such as skiing also played a role, the department said.

The labor department said it has paid more than $2 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits since the start of the pandemic.

Maine’s unemployment rate was 4.8 percent for February, which was more than it was in February 2020, but less than the national rate of 6.2 percent.