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Colorado to roll out Phase 2 of federal unemployment benefits Saturday

The state's labor department estimates $7.33 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid out since mid-March 2020.

DENVER — The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) gave an update on the latest unemployment data and the rollout of federal benefits on Thursday.

Colorado rolling out Phase 2 federal unemployment benefits on Saturday

CDLE announced that Phase Two of the rollout of federal unemployment benefits will begin Saturday. That will allow claimants who had previously exhausted benefits from before Dec. 26 to file for resumed benefits.

Around 289,000 claimants who may be part of Phase Two have been emailed instructions for resuming benefits, CDLE said.

Any claimants that have expired their initial Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits will have to first file a regular regular unemployment insurance (UI) claim to verify their eligibility for state benefits. Anyone not eligible will then by able to file a PUA claim.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) claimants should see benefits reopen soon since they are already receiving state benefits, CDLE said.

All claims that are reopened will either backdate to Dec. 27, or to the last week a claimant received payment if their benefits resumed during Phase 1.

Claimants who are eligible to file for benefits on Saturday currently will have to wait until Sunday to certify the weeks they are questing payment for, but CDLE said it is working on making that part of the process available on Saturday.

CDLE said it's call center will be open on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to help answer questions about the Phase Two rollout, and said hours will also be extended next week.

Latest Colorado unemployment fraud data

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, CDLE has placed fraud holds on about a million claims.

Since the new My UI system was rolled out in January, just under 800,000 fraud holds have been placed. CDLE said it has been working through removing holds for legitimate claims, especially when the claimant reaches out to the department.

CDLE also said it recently has been sending out about 25,000 emails a day to claimants with information on how to verify their identity through ID.me.

According to CDLE, anywhere between 75% and 90% of all PUA claims are fraudulent.

The department said it has paid out an estimated $6 million in fraudulent claims, and has prevented an estimated $7 billion in fraudulent payments.

Weekly Colorado unemployment claims data

CDLE estimated 12,151 initial UI claims for the most recent week ending Feb. 13 after adjusting for fraud, and reported $26.3 million in regular UI benefits were paid out.

In addition, 8,000 initial PUA claims were filed the same week, and CDLE notes these are not new claims, only reopened claims.

For the week ending Feb. 6, a total of 184,755 continued claims were filed including 69,993 regular UI claims, 67,481 PUA claims and 47,281 PEUC claims.

CDLE estimated the continued claims were filed by about 129,181 people (63,459 for regular UI; 39,955 for PUA, and 25,767 for PEUC).

Since mid-March 2020, CDLE estimated 818,005 regular UI claims have been flied.

RELATED: Colorado's new unemployment system is a success, says labor official; Not everyone agrees

Unemployment benefits paid in Colorado since March 29, 2020

  • Regular UI: $2.67 billion
  • PUA (gig workers/self-employed): $1.11 billion
  • PEUC (extends additional 11 weeks): $417.2 million
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation ($300/weekly UI benefits to eligible claimants): $2.71 billion 
  • State Extended Benefits (extends unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks): $30 million
  • Lost Wages Assistance ($300/weekly UI benefits to eligible claimants, fall 2020): $389.2 million

  • Total: $7.33 billion

Some of the federal unemployment programs above provided slightly different benefits under the CARES Act, which expired Dec. 26. The details listed above are determined by the Continued Assistance Act.

RELATED: Unemployment claims jump to 861,000 as US layoffs stay high

The number of Americans applying for unemployment aid rose last week to 861,000, evidence that layoffs remain painfully high despite a steady drop in the number of confirmed viral infections.

Applications from laid-off workers rose 13,000 from the previous week, which was revised sharply higher, the labor department said Thursday. Before the virus erupted in the U.S. last March, weekly applications for unemployment benefits had never topped 700,000, even during the Great Recession of 2008-2009.

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