Colorado Labor Dept.: 5,837 additional Coloradans filed for regular unemployment last week

DENVER — An additional 5,837 people filed for traditional unemployment benefits in the week ending Aug. 29, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday, a decrease of 492 from the week prior.

The state did not report the number of self-employed and gig workers in Colorado who applied for state-level Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for the same period due to what it called a data reporting issue. There were 16,417 the week prior.

That specific assistance at the federal level, along with a $600 per week additional benefit for all claims, expired on Aug. 1. Reports from Washington show talks between Democrats, the White House and portions of the Republican legislative base have faltered multiple times.

In lieu of a congressional deal, President Donald Trump signed executive orders in previous weeks that among other actions diverted $40 billion in federal disaster funding to give most unemployment claimants $400 per week through the end of December, with the first $100 being paid by the state.

Colorado was approved in recent weeks to tap into that funding, but state officials plan to pay out only the $300 in federal dollars and have yet to decide if it will apply the supposed $100 state match.

The number of regular continuing claims was at 177,135 Coloradans in the week ending Aug. 22, amounting to a drop of 2,843. The number of continued claims for pandemic-specific assistance was relatively steady at 83,926 for that time period.

In a call with reporters, CDLE senior economist Ryan Gedney said the average for weekly claims during the Great Recession was around 4,800, a figure the state is still fairly far from reaching in terms of lessening claims.

While the trend in claims could rise due to recently announced airline layoffs and the changes in restaurant staff as colder months stop people from eating outdoors, he said the downward trend is encouraging.

“There are still some things that can change the data, but right now the overall trend is positive,” he said.

Colorado distributed $65.9 million in regular unemployment-insurance payments in the week, a small drop from $67.2 million the prior week.

Nationwide, the U.S. Labor Department said 881,000 Americans filed for first-time benefits in the week ending Aug. 29 but said that figure is not comparable to previous weekly numbers because of changes in methodology to adjust for seasonal employment trends.

State labor officials do not seasonally adjust their weekly claims alongside the U.S. Department of Labor’s figures.