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Colorado regular unemployment initial claims rise again but benefit payouts continue to drop

Weekly regular initial claims highest since early June
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Posted at 8:26 AM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 10:26:50-04

DENVER – Colorado saw its highest number of regular initial unemployment claims last week since the first week of June – jumping back over 10,000 again last week, according to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

The 10,506 regular initial unemployment claims are the highest of any week since the week ending June 6, when around 12,900 regular initial claims were filed. Last week, self-employed and gig worker Coloradans filed 5,420 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims – down from 5,900 the week before.

Since mid-March, Coloradans have filed a combined 633,407 regular or PUA initial claims and has paid out a combined roughly $3.5 billion in regular unemployment benefits and PUA and Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits.

The state paid out another $79 million in regular benefits last week. Last Thursday, CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney said that if the state pays out around $85 million in regular benefits each week, the state’s unemployment trust fund would be insolvent in August – at which time the state would borrow from the federal government to continue paying benefits.

But last week saw the lowest amount in total benefits paid out since the federal CARES Act benefits kicked in, and the $79 million in regular benefits was the lowest payout by the state since the week ending April 18. Regular unemployment continued weeks claimed fell to their lowest levels last week since the second week of April.

Accommodation and food services accounted for 13% of initial claims – the top industry in the state for initial claims during the outbreak – the week ending June 27, for which the most recent data are available. That was followed by health care and social service, which accounted for 11% of initial claims, administrative and support and waste management and remediation services, which accounted for 11% as well.

The CDLE is expected to issue June unemployment data, and the state’s unemployment rate for June, on Friday. May's unemployment rate was 10.2%, down from 12.2% in April. The department is planning to introduce a virtual agent this week to help address the volume of calls to the unemployment call center.