Maine has joined New Hampshire and is implementing a program to entice the unemployed back to work with an incentive system that begins on Tuesday.

Employers will get a one-time $1,500 payment for eligible workers who start jobs between June 15 and June 30 or a $1,000 payment for eligible workers who start jobs in July as part of the Back to Work program.

The employer will be expected to pass the payment onto the new worker after 8 weeks on the job.

Like New Hampshire, the state's hospitality and restaurant industry is struggling to hire for the season. But unlike the Granite State, Maine has not only continued to give unemployed workers the $300 supplement as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, they added $100 for the self-employed working a "traditional" job.

The plan has the backing of Curtis Picard, president of the Retail Association of Maine. They hope the plan will help hospitality businesses staff up.

"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 we are known for. This program will be a huge help," Picard said.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills said she has seen the same thing and hopes this will help push people back into the workforce.

"We have worked hard over the last fifteen months to get the pandemic under control so that it’s safe for everyone to return to work. Now COVID cases are down, vaccines are widely available, and jobs are plentiful,” Governor Janet Mills said.

To be eligible, people must:

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

New Hampshire's summer stipend program has a $500 bonus for people who take part-time work and $1,000 for those taking full-time work.

At his last coronavirus briefing, Gov. Chris Sununu said 5,700 people have come off unemployment.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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