Colorado unemployment claims tick up again, remain far above 2019 levels

By: - August 20, 2020 3:39 pm
unemployment protest

Activists marched in a mock funeral procession in Denver to protest the expiration of a federal unemployment benefit. (Chase Woodruff/Colorado Newsline)

Nearly 19,000 Coloradans filed initial claims for some kind of unemployment assistance last week, as workers across the state continue to feel the devastating economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press release, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said that 6,942 regular unemployment claims had been filed in Colorado in the week ending Aug. 15 — a slight increase from the previous week after several consecutive weeks of declines.

Colorado saw an even sharper uptick in initial claims under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, created to provide benefits to those who don’t qualify for regular unemployment insurance, including self-employed workers, independent contractors and gig workers. Another 11,809 Coloradans filed for PUA benefits last week, a 30% week-over-week increase and the program’s highest total since mid-June.

While they’ve fallen from a dramatic peak of 104,217 first-time regular claims in the week ending April 11, unemployment figures remain far higher than they were in 2019, when roughly 1,900 Coloradans filed regular claims in an average week, according to CDLE data.

Since the beginning of June, regular initial claims have leveled off to a weekly average of about 8,800 — worse than the highest weekly total Colorado recorded during the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010, and nearly double that period’s weekly average.

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Chase Woodruff
Chase Woodruff

Chase Woodruff is a senior reporter for Colorado Newsline. His beats include the environment, money in politics, and the economy.