Mills Administration Announces “Back to Work” Program to Help Unemployed People Rejoin Workforce; State Chamber Approves


These Signs Are Seen All Over Maine and It Is Expected that the Governor’s New Program Will Reduce Them Significantly for Qualifying Employees.

As Maine continues its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mills Administration today unveiled a new program aimed at getting unemployed Maine people back into the workforce.  The new program will be administered by the Maine Department of Labor and the Department of Economic and Community Development.

The “Back to Work” program will provide employers a one-time $1,500. payment for eligible workers who start jobs between Tuesday, June 15, 2021 and June 30 or a $1,000. payment for eligible workers who start jobs in July to encourage unemployed Maine people to return to the workforce.  The first-come, first-served program will utilize $10 million in Federal funding and could reach up to 7,500 people.

The program comes as Maine’s economy continues to recover from the pandemic, with the state having added 11,200 jobs during the first quarter of 2021 and overall unemployment claims steadily declining.  As employers across Maine seek workers, the program aims to accelerate the transition of unemployed Maine people back into the workforce and help businesses recover from pandemic related business disruptions.  The program compliments the Mills Administration ongoing work to provide COVID-19 vaccines, job development opportunities and affordable child care to job seekers to ease the transition back into the workforce.

To be eligible, people must:

  1. Have received unemployment compensation for the week ending May 29, 2021; 2. Accept a full-time job that pays less than $25. per hour and remain on the job for a period of at least eight consecutive weeks; and 3. Not receive unemployment compensation during the work period of employment

The program begins tomorrow, Tuesday, June 15, 2021 and applications will be accepted through July 25, 2021.  Later this week, the Maine Department of Labor will launch an online portal on its website where businesses can confirm employees qualify and register their start dates.  Once the employee has worked for eight weeks, the employer will provide documentation of the completion of the requirement and grant funds will be issued to the employer to be passed through to the employee according to a press release issued by the Governor’s office this afternoon.

“Maine’s hiring crunch is one of the biggest challenges facing employees across the state right now and is an impediment to our pandemic recovery,” said Dana Connors, President and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce.  “The Governor’s initiative is the right strategy at the right time to help get Maine people back to work, businesses back in full operation and Maine’s economy fully back on track.”

“Everywhere I go, I see ‘now hiring’ signs at retailers of all sizes.  There are millions of people ready to visit Maine this summer and we need our retail, tourism and hospitality businesses ready to deliver the world-class customer service that are known for.  This program will be a huge help,” said Curtis Picard, President and CEO of the Retail Association of Maine.