Colorado unemployment filings skyrocket as coronavirus takes its toll on businesses

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has seen a massive spike in new unemployment insurance claims as the spread of the new coronavirus and drastic measures being taken to curtail it make their impacts felt on local businesses.

There were about 6,800 “attempts to file” for unemployment insurance in the state as of 10 a.m. Tuesday, according to Cher Haavind, spokeswoman for labor department. That followed 3,900 claims being filed on Monday.

A week prior, on March 9, just 400 people filed, 1,600% fewer than did so Tuesday morning, according to state officials.

“We’re seeing one-day or likely one-week and two-week spikes like we never saw in the Great Recession,” Jeff Fitzgerald, the state’s unemployment insurance director, said in a video news conference Tuesday afternoon.

The flood of online claims was so great it led to technical issues with the state’s online filing system that may have prevented some people from successfully filing, Fitzgerald indicated. He recommended anyone filing a claim through the state’s online portal at — still the best way to file when functioning properly — save their work as they go.

“As claimants go through the system, the best thing they can continue to do is hit the ‘save and finish later’ button,” Fitzgerald said. “That will save their work so they won’t come to the end of the process and fail to file.”

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On Monday, the state released guidance for workers who have lost their jobs and employers who have had to cut staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic on its website. As Fitzgerald discussed during Tuesday’s conference, those options include a work-share program where instead of laying off workers in an emergency, employers reduce hours by 10 to 40%, keeping workers on but also giving them access to state benefits.

Joe Barela, executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, emphasized that unemployment insurance does not fully replace the wages of laid-off workers, just a portion based on a variety of factors. He urged high-skill workers who are healthy enough to remain in the workforce to visit, the state online workforce resource to look for openings.

Restaurant workers and others in the hospitality industry have been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

Chris Fuselier, the owner of downtown Denver mega sports bar the Blake …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Business


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