New and continuing weekly claims for unemployment benefits in Maine last week ticked upward slightly from the previous week, but the number of individual Mainers filing initial claims remained steady, according to data released Thursday by the Maine Department of Labor.

About 1,300 Mainers filed new unemployment claims last week, the same number as the week before. About 3,200 initial unemployment claims were filed last week, up from 2,400 claims the previous week. The number of claims exceeds the number of claimants because of overlap between state and federal jobless aid programs.

About 67,500 workers filed continuing weekly claims for state and federal benefits last week, including extended federal and state benefits, the department reported. That figure was up slightly from the 64,100 continued claims the previous week.

New and weekly claims have fallen sharply from a peak this spring, when restrictions intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 forced many businesses to close or sharply curtail operations. The number of claims is still higher than at any point in nearly two decades, and the state’s unemployment rate in July was 10 percent.

An added $300 per week for Mainers unemployed because of the coronavirus pandemic is still pending as the state sets up a system to disburse those benefits. The new benefit, authorized by President Trump, will be a short-term, partial replacement of a $600-per-week enhanced benefit unemployed workers received between April and July as a result of the federal CARES Act.

The new benefit will be paid from a $44 billion fund managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Maine and some other states have to develop an entirely new system to administer the benefit because it cannot be merged with their existing unemployment insurance programs, the Maine Department of Labor has said.

Eligible claimants do not need to do anything to receive the funds, and Maine has been authorized for three weeks of payments worth about $73.5 million. The benefits will be paid retroactively from Aug. 1.

The state anticipates the first payments will be made by mid-September.

Nationally, roughly 881,000 claims for unemployment benefits were filed last week, evidence that the viral pandemic keeps forcing many businesses to slash jobs, The Associated Press reported. All told, 13.3 million people continued to receive traditional jobless benefits last week, up from 1.7 million a year earlier, according to AP.

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