Hiring Bonus: Colorado Will Pay People To Go Back To Work

DPS Hiring Custodians Employment Unemployment
Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A sign on Brown Elementary School in Denver advertises job openings for custodians at Denver Public Schools, Wednesday, July 22, 2020.

Colorado is offering to pay unemployed people to go back to work.

The new Jumpstart grant program will give $1,600 to eligible workers who get new jobs in May or $1,200 who find jobs in June. To qualify, workers need to have been on unemployment in the last six weeks, verify their identity through a third-party vendor, and stay at a new full-time job for eight weeks to claim their full benefit. The money would come in two payments later in the summer.

State officials expect up to 138,000 people could qualify for the program, if they can find jobs by the deadline.

Gov. Jared Polis created the program through an executive order and describes it as a way to set people up for success as they rejoin the workforce after the pandemic.

In a statement announcing the grants, Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Executive Director Joe Barela said: “This won’t just help Coloradans, it’s going to help businesses to have a productive workforce, ready to power our economy and comeback.”

The new program comes as states consider how to encourage people to seek work as restrictions ease and service industries, in particular, hope to start hiring. In Texas, the governor recently announced that the state will stop paying enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits at the end of June.

Colorado has earmarked at least a half-million dollars from a disaster relief fund to cover the start of the Jumpstart program. That money will go to administrative and startup costs. The state plans to use FEMA money to cover further expenses, which could run between an estimated $36 million and $57 million. The FEMA money is available for states for reimbursement for public health expenses.

CPR's Andrew Kenney contributed to this report.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with additional information about program funding.