New unemployment claims remain nearly eight times higher than pre-pandemic averages

At least 15.6 percent of the state’s workforce has lost their jobs since March 15, as Mainers take the necessary steps to limit transmission of the coronavirus by drastically reducing the person-to-person contact necessary for normal economic activity.

On Thursday, the Maine Department of Labor announced that 7,420 Mainers had filed new unemployment claims in the week ending April 25. That is down from a pandemic high of 30,889 claims in the week ending April 8 but is still nearly eight times higher than the 2020 weekly new claims average before the pandemic.

More than 108,520 Mainers have filed for unemployment over five weeks, putting the state unemployment rate at an estimated 18.8 percent.

It’s a testament to the severity of this crisis that a week with 7,420 Mainers new unemployment claims feels like a bit of relief, but every one of those claims represents a Mainer whose life has been disrupted by this pandemic. They join more than 100,000 others who have lost their livelihoods since this crisis began.

Even as we may become desensitized to these dramatic figures, it is crucial that we remember the real pain of this moment for people across the state and focus on the policy solutions necessary to protect life and prevent economic catastrophe for Maine families.