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Colorado unemployment initial claims continue to fall; trust fund forecast for August insolvency

Labor dept. launching upgraded tool to address questions next week
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Posted at 11:22 AM, Jul 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-09 13:23:19-04

DENVER – Colorado’s state unemployment trust fund is forecast to be solvent into mid-to-late August if the state continues to pay out around $85 million each week in regular unemployment benefits, officials said Thursday, though initial and continued claims continue to drop week-over-week.

The state paid out another $83.6 million in regular unemployment benefits last week – the second week in a row where that number was under $85 million. But the state set a record for total benefits paid in June.

But 7,854 regular unemployment initial claims were filed last week, along with 5,900 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance initial claims – both down from the week before. It marked the fourth straight week that initial regular claims had fallen.

The state also saw two consecutive weeks of continued claims being under 250,000 for the first time since the start of the stay-at-home orders.

It has also paid out $1.14 billion in regular unemployment benefits since March 29.

Earlier this year, state budget forecasters estimated the trust fund would become insolvent in June or early July – but CDLE Senior Economist Ryan Gedney said the department is now forecasting the fund to become insolvent in August.

Gedney said the fund currently has between $325 million and $350 million and that the CDLE estimates it will gain another $100-$120 million in unemployment insurance contributions from business for the second quarter of the year over the next month.

If the state pays out around $85 million in regular unemployment benefits each week, Gedney said, that would put insolvency in August. That date could be pushed back if the amount the state pays out every week continues to drop.

Eight U.S. states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have already seen their funds become insolvent and are borrowing from the federal government’s Federal Unemployment Account at zero interest through the end of the year, Gedney said. Colorado would do so as well if or when the fund becomes insolvent – as it did in the early ‘80s and during the Great Recession.

CDLE officials said that the unemployment call center was still receiving around 12,000 unique calls per day and was able to answer or call back about 4,000 of them. The department will be launching another upgraded virtual assistant tool next week, with a time-slot arrangement, to hopefully cut down on the number of questions going unanswered, officials said.

The department will release June’s unemployment data next Friday.