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Nearly 500K Coloradans filed for unemployment since late March, but initial claims continue to fall

17K regular initial claims, 7K PUA initial claims last week
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Posted at 11:27 AM, May 21, 2020

DENVER – Nearly half a million Coloradans filed initial unemployment claims over the past nine weeks, though regular initial claims fillings dropped last week in the state for the fifth week in a row as the full state moved to the safer-at-home phase and many businesses statewide reopened.

Another 17,825 Coloradans filed regular initial claims last week and another 7,633 self-employed or gig-worker Coloradans filed federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims last week, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The number of regular initial claims fell again week-over-week – down from 22,483 for the week ending May 9.

Nationwide, 2.4 million more Americans filed for unemployment last week, bringing the nine-week total nationally to 38 million initial claims.

In total over the past nine weeks, a combined 476,613 initial claims have been filed between the regular and federal unemployment programs – 405,800 of which were regular initial claims, the CDLE said.

The state paid out $88.8 million in regular unemployment benefits last week – a $7.2 million drop from the week before, when the state paid out a record $96 million.

Since the week ending April 4, Colorado has paid $521.6 million out of its unemployment insurance trust fund, which Legislative Council Staff and the state are forecasting will be insolvent in June or July.

Another $132.4 in federal money has been paid out to PUA recipients since April 20, and $700 million in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) – the $600 a week federal program for people receiving regular or PUA benefits – has been paid out as well.

The industries seeing the most claims and benefits paid for the week ending May 2, from which most recent data are available, continue to be accommodation and food services, retail trade, health care and social service, administrative and support and waste management and remediation services.

The CDLE will release its monthly employment report detailing the April unemployment rate and other details Friday morning. In February, there were about 3.1 million adult Coloradans who were employment-eligible.

Colorado’s unemployment rate rose to 4.5% in March at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak after stay-at-home orders went into effect statewide in the last week of the month. CDLE officials believe Friday’s release of the April unemployment figure will paint a better picture of how hard the virus outbreak has affected the state’s economy.

Colorado’s unemployment rate was 2.5% in February. March was the first time since June 2005 that Colorado’s unemployment rate was higher than the national unemployment rate (4.4%).