Colorado Has Paid Out Nearly $2B In Unemployment Since The Pandemic Took Hold

Colorado has handed out more than $1.9 billion in unemployment benefits since the end of March. To compare, the state and the federal government paid out $2.2 billion in benefits in 2010 for the year during The Great Recession.

For the week that ended May 30, the state paid out $86.2 million. In the same time period, Coloradans filed 12,149 initial regular unemployment claims and 6,414 federal unemployment claims (for gig workers, self-employed).

Compared to the previous week, initial regular claims were down 22 percent. This is the seventh consecutive week that unemployment claims have fallen.

Over the past 11 weeks, 517,414 Coloradans filed for unemployment benefits including gig and self-employed workers who were not eligible for aid before the pandemic. Gig and self-employed workers get aid from the federal government, under the Pandemic Unemployed Assistance. 

As Colorado opens its economy, the work search requirement has been reinstated and broadened beyond applying for a job. The new definition includes networking, professional development or the use of services at workforce centers. 

As of Wednesday, there are more than 1,200 refusals to return to work cases. There is about a 17 percent denial rate. Colorado Department of Labor and Employment spokeswoman Cher Haavind said denials happen when the claimant is not able to prove that they are part of a vulnerable population, or caring for someone who is. Also, some are denied because employers were able to show they have established safe workplace conditions. 

The state received more than 1,400 plans for workshares and 980 have been approved and implemented. 

“That continues to be a viable option for employers who are hoping to avoid a full workforce reduction or layoff scenario, and instead can spread among their workers a reduction in hours to retain their workers in a job attached fashion,” Haavind said. CDLE will begin on-site appointments beginning Monday, June 8. People can set appointments now on its website. So far, 600 people have already made an appointment.