STATEMENT: Grim job loss forecast worsens as two-week unemployment claims exceed 2019 total

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine will lose more than 87,000 jobs by the end of June as efforts to contain the coronavirus make normal economic activity all but impossible, according to revised projections from the Economic Policy Institute.

Half those lost jobs are already reflected in the latest unemployment claims data released Thursday by the Maine Department of Labor, which showed that more than 45,000 Mainers had filed new claims in the two weeks ending on March 28. That figure exceeds the total number of unemployment claims made in all of 2019.

The Maine Center for Economic Policy expects this number will grow as public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 continue to ripple through our economy and as self-employed people and other workers not previously eligible for unemployment begin to file claims in the coming weeks.

Garrett Martin, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, released the following statement:

“This unprecedented job loss is driven by the public health crisis that has brought normal economic activity to a standstill. So long as we are taking the necessary steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, there’s nothing we can do to prevent job loss. What we can do is ensure people who are losing their jobs aren’t also losing access to food, housing, health care, and other basics that are more critical than ever during this pandemic. Congressional action through the Families First Act and the CARES Act were steps in the right direction, but families, small businesses and state and local governments will need additional support from policymakers to weather the storm and be poised for a prompt recovery.”

On Wednesday, MECEP released a new report sounding the alarm on the new US economic downturn that’s poised to eclipse the Great Recession in scope and scale. The coronavirus recession has been sparked by the pandemic, but its damage is exacerbated by pre-existing inequalities. Federal and state policymakers must meet the enormity of the public health and economic crisis with a similarly unprecedented effort to protect families, small businesses, and state revenues from devastation.

The full report is available here.