The Colorado Department of Labor discussed the unemployment situation in the state and announced a safety net program Friday.

In Mesa County, 7,960 residents applied for unemployment benefits, or about 10% of the workforce, in June. That mark is favorable to the state and national averages of 10.5% and 11.1%, according to department statistics. Colorado’s mark is the 16th-lowest in the country, but the trend was a positive direction from April.

“This movement can be viewed as positive as it means more people are re-entering Colorado’s labor market and actively seeking employment,” said Ryan Gedney, senior economist for Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, in a virtual press conference.

To combat people exhausting their unemployment claims, the department also announced the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which will provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits. Persons nearing the end of their initial unemployment payments will be given notice and steps on how to apply for the compensation, according to a news release from the department.

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases could renew the need for federal assistance and the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance payments of $600, which will run dry on July 25.

Ideas have been floating around on how to replace that bill, such as smaller payments or a bonus for those who return to work, but details are sparse.

Colorado’s 7% rate of involuntary part-time workers, people who clock 35 hours or fewer per week but want more, is hovering around one to two points above than the mark of the Great Recession.

These numbers are preliminary, though, and do not include data from recent weeks where the U.S. has seen a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. July numbers and revised June numbers will be released on Aug. 21.

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