COVID-19  April 16, 2020

Labor Dept.: More than 100,000 Coloradans filed for unemployment last week

A massive surge compared to 46,000 filings the week prior

DENVER — A total of 104,217 Colorado residents filed for initial unemployment benefits last week, a massive spike that now places the figure of unemployed Coloradans within a month well north of 230,000.

The latest weekly data release from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is a striking surge in unemployment claims for the week ending April 11 when compared to 46,000 claims the week prior.

The weekly figure of benefits paid also doubled, with the state paying $62 million in benefits the week ending April 11 compared to $29.8 million the week prior.

State economists most recently estimated a total of 3,186,400 Coloradans were part of the workforce as of February. The total unemployment claims filed in the past several weeks indicate at least 7.2% of the state’s labor force was knocked out of work within the course of a month.

It is not immediately clear if the more than doubling of claims was caused by the Labor Department’s expansion of its capacity to take claims online and over the phone, by self-employed and independent contractors being allowed to file when they traditionally haven’t, or if there was a massive wave of layoffs from businesses that collapsed after weeks of trying to maintain their workforce.

In a call with reporters Thursday morning, CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney there’s no historical record to determine how many Coloradans are independent contractors or self-employed, but estimates there are 370,000 in the state based on broader U.S. data.

Gedney said the spike in claims this week was likely a “catch-up effect” from a lag of previous weeks, and he doesn’t anticipate more than 100,000 state residents filing per week to be part of a longer pattern going forward.

Approximately 5.24 million Americans overall made initial claims in the week ending April 11, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s figures Thursday morning, a drop of 1.37 million from the week prior.

However, that now places the total figure of unemployed Americans to more than 22 million, erasing almost all of the jobs added between February 2010 and February 2020.

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