Unemployment insurance likely to rise in 2011

Lisa Mullen got a nasty surprise when she opened her mail Wednesday morning.

A letter from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment informed her that her premium for unemployment insurance was more than doubling, from 1.22 percent of payroll to 3.22 percent.

“It was: Here it is, it’s your UE rate, live with it,” said Mullen, who owns Rocky Mountain Sanitation in Mesa County with her husband. “I am so frustrated right now. It’s so scary to be a small-business owner. At every turn I think they want to penalize us.”

The letter from the state was no accident, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

“The reason many employers’ unemployment premiums will be increasing in 2011 is directly tied to the recession,” spokesman Bill Thoeness said in a statement.

The state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund went insolvent under the weight of the number of Coloradans who filed for unemployment benefits in 2009, Thoeness said.

Colorado is one of 31 states whose trust funds were depleted by early 2010.

Colorado has borrowed more than $368 million from the federal Department of Labor to provide unemployment benefits during the current recession, Thoeness said, noting California has borrowed nearly $9 billion for the same purpose.

Colorado law requires the unemployment compensation be made solvent as soon as possible, Thoeness said.

Not every company will see their premiums increase in 2011, but many will, Thoeness said.

While Mullen said the increase is one more impediment to hiring someone to work for Rocky Mountain Sanitation, she is nonetheless continuing her search for a driver. It’s a job she’s had open for two months now.

The few applicants she has had have turned out to be unqualified, uninsurable or have personal issues, Mullen said.

People who might be qualified, she said, seem to be less interested because of the extension of unemployment benefits that is pending before Congress.

“Continuing benefits is just feeding the unemployment situation,” Mullen said.


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