Colorado unemployment filings cross 400,000 mark


DENVER — An additional 41,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in the week ending May 2, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said, bringing the figure of out-of-work residents north of 400,000.

The state saw 28,164 regular initial claims and 13,149 claims from self-employed and contract workers between April 27 and May 2, according to weekly figures released Thursday morning. That places the figure of claims in the past seven weeks at 419,547.

State labor officials last estimated Colorado’s labor force to be around 3.14 million in March. When compared to the past several weeks, the figures suggest approximately 13.35% of state residents have claimed some form of unemployment benefits.

While there was a minor decrease in regular unemployment payments in the period, from $86.1 million to $84.8 million, payments to gig workers and the self-employed between April 20 and May 2 hit $65.6 million.

CDLE paid out $336.8 million in regular benefits alone since the start of April, spending almost a third of what the state’s trust fund had in reserves at the start of the year. On a call with reporters Thursday morning, CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said the trust fund balance is currently around $750 million, and the state expects to bring in $250 million to $300 million from continued payroll tax revenue over the past two months.

“I think in the coming weeks, it’s very possible weekly benefits paid will exceed $100 million,” he said.

The state would tap into federally available backstop funds if the trust fund were to near insolvency, he said. That would follow California, which said it would start tapping into federal support in recent days.

The U.S. Department of Labor said initial claims across the country last week hit 3.169 million, a decrease of 677,000 new filings from the week prior. More than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

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