Picard said the program was ended because the average insured unemployment rate for the last 13 weeks in Maine fell below five percent. By law, the program cannot be re-activated for 13 weeks, she said.
However, James Myall, economic policy analyst at the Maine Center for Economic Policy, said a different calculation method of the insured unemployment rate would likely have caused that rate to rise above the five percent threshold needed to trigger state extended unemployment benefits. For example, he said, the state’s calculation doesn’t count Mainers who are unemployed but receive benefits through a federal program.
“I certainly think it’s unfortunate,” Myall said of the program ending.