The number of displaced workers filing initial claims for unemployment benefits continued to decline since the start of the year, but they still are higher than they were when nearly two dozen larger counties went into a higher lockdown due to the pandemic back in November.
By the end of last week, 11,432 more workers filed for regular state aid, but the number of people filing for the renewed federal programs — Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for gig and self-employed workers, and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation that adds 13 more weeks for people whose regular unemployment has run out — isn’t yet known.
That’s because the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is still reprograming its new online filing system to process those claims.
Department officials, however, have said those filers will see payments dating back to Dec. 27, the day after the old programs expired, once that’s completed.
To date, nearly 781,000 Colorado workers at some point since the pandemic began have applied for full or partial regular unemployment insurance benefits. Adding gig and self-employed filers, that number swells to 1.3 million, nearly one-third of the state’s entire workforce.
Meanwhile, the number of workers who continue to receive weekly regular unemployment checks also has decreased, to 85,305 as of the week ending Jan. 16, the latest figures available. That’s down from about 147,000 in mid-December and less than half what it was over the summer.
Because the department is still working on its new MyUI+ filing system, it hasn’t been able to update county-by-county filings since the middle of last month.
To date, the department has paid out nearly $7 billion in state and federal aid since the pandemic began last March. That breaks down to $2.6 billion in regular state benefits, $1 billion in PUA money, $360.5 million in PEUC compensation, $29.7 million in state extended benefits and $389 million in Lost Wages Assistance, the six-week program that President Donald Trump approved late last summer through an executive order.
The total figure also includes $2.5 billion paid out through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. That was the extra $600 a week UI filers were getting through the CARES Act that expired in July. Like the other federal aid programs, that one is coming back, too, but now paying out only $300 a week to anyone currently receiving state or federal aid.
The department also notes that there are nearly 76,000 available jobs throughout the state listed on its ConnectingColorado.com employment website.
While it says that all industries are hiring, the predominance of them are in administrative and support (26,859 jobs); professional, scientific and technical services (20,480); and retail trade (18,679).
There also are openings in trucking, nursing and customer services.
In Mesa County, that same website lists 753 job openings, including such things a truck drivers, bank tellers, mortgage loan officers, housekeepers and various sales and medical industry-related positions.
Delta County lists 102 various openings, while Garfield County has more than 200.