Labor Department Reduces Unemployment Claims Center Hours

Jun 19, 2017

People filing unemployment claims will now have fewer hours during the day to call and talk to someone about their claim. But they'll still be able to file online or using an automated phone system, at any time.

The Unemployment Claims Center had been open 8 a.m.-4:45 p.m. weekdays; now it is only open until 12:30 p.m.

Maine Department of Labor Spokeswoman Julie Rabinowitz said the change will allow more availiblity in the morning, when the center gets most of its calls. The center will then have more people processing claims in the afternoon.

"We'll have fewer people calling and asking where their payment is," she said. "And that will lead to us being more efficient and handling people who have questions more specifically about their claims."

Rabinowitz said unemployment claims are at a 32-year low, and summer in Maine is the time of year when joblessness is lowest.

"With that unemployment rate at 3.2 percent, and along the coast particularly Cumberland and York Counties we anticipate their rates to go down into the 1 percent range," she said.

Rabinowitz said the DOL also recently put a federal employment services program on hiatus, because it did not have enough qualified unemployment claimants to qualify for federal funding.

The DOL is in the process of implementing a new claims system, and Rabinowitz said the lower summer volume of calls will give staffers some time to train and test the system.

She said this should result in people's payments getting out faster.