More than 36,000 Coloradans filed first-time claims for unemployment benefits in the first week of December, continuing a worsening trend as a nationwide spike in COVID-19 infections and new public-health restrictions impact many businesses, especially in the service sector. The week ending Dec. 5 was the worst period for initial unemployment claims since early June, according to data released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
Workers in the food-service sector continue to suffer the worst of the latest wave of joblessness. For the week ending Nov. 21 — the most recent period for which specific data is available — Coloradans in the “accommodation and food service” industry made up 43.5% of new unemployment claims, the CDLE said. Other hard-hit industries included health care and construction.
Nearly half of Colorado’s initial claims for the week ending Dec. 5 were filed under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, a federal benefit created earlier this year for independent contractors and gig workers who are unable to qualify for regular unemployment insurance.
Nearly 70,000 Coloradans received a payment under the PUA program in November, according to CDLE data, but congressional authorization for the benefit is due to expire on Dec. 26, and negotiations over additional federal relief legislation have continued to stall.
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