Unemployment in Colorado
State claimants will start seeing stimulated unemployment payments this week
26 million people have lost their jobs in the last five weeks nationwide according to National Public Radio. Four million more have applied for unemployment the week of April 20. Zarroli said, “In the country as a whole, 9.4% of the working age population has filed for unemployment since mid-March. That’s twice the share of the population that filed during the great recession.” These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of affected workers—many people are facing cut wages or hours as businesses attempt to stay open and afloat during the crisis.
The CARES Act offers a positive short-term solution, stimulating determined state aid (established through income analysis) by $600 a week. These payments are retroactive to March 29, and will continue to be added until the end of July. The Act also adds an extra 13 weeks of state unemployment under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provision.
Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment hosted a virtual Town Hall meeting on April 20th to update citizens on their work. Their website posted a recording of the Town Hall meeting, and they are posting regular updates below the video. Having officially implemented the Federal Government’s payout system with their own, self-employed gig workers can now file a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claim (PUA)—however—the department is still working out it’s kinks: The most recent update was posted on April 23rd, saying, “There was an error in getting those requests to the bank,” and that they will be posting more updates soon.
For all citizens who are already in the regular Colorado unemployment system, they will be automatically paying out retroactive funds dating back to the claimant’s filing date, and will also be adding the extra $600 to future payments. All claimants should do is continue to request payment regularly every two weeks—no further action is needed.
The department has also nearly doubled their internal staff for their call center, open from 8 am-4 pm on weekdays, and additionally 12pm-4pm on Saturdays. This effort has still been met with extremely high call volumes. More than likely, calling at this time will result in a busy caller line notification or automated voice recording advising to try again later and/or visit their website.
State department workers are working tirelessly as they deal with tens of thousands of callers every day. But while the short term aid is a vital life line for many, the long term outlook may not be as bright. Zarroli says many states are seeing “double digit losses” in their trust funds designed to provide help during the event of a crisis like this one, meaning that states will be pulling federal loans out to keep up with the number of unemployment cases needing payment. In the future, when states are looking at paying back these loans, that means higher taxation.
For everyone who is receiving stimulated unemployment, it will be important to evaluate the possibility of a much longer financial crisis than this Act will cover, and make these payments count.