COLORADO, USA — The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) said during a news call on Friday that state extended benefits (SEB) will be ending early, and that thousands of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims are being held up as it works to combat fraud.
> Video above: Full CDLE news conference on Nov. 20.
State Extended Benefits ending
SEB provides up to 13 weeks of extended benefit payments for qualifying claimants who have already received 13 weeks of regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and 13 weeks of federal Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits.
CDLE said that in Colorado, SEB is "triggered" on when the insured unemployment rate (IUR) goes above 5%, and is "triggered" off when it drops below 5%.
Because the IUR rate dropped to 4.9% the week ending November 7, CDLE said that it will be triggered off the week ending Nov. 28, and cannot be reactivated for at least 13 weeks.
IUR is calculated by taking the 13-week average of continued UI claims, and dividing it by CDLE's estimated number of covered employment.
CDLE said it is reaching out to claimants who will be impacted by SEB ending early.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fraud
CDLE said that it is enhancing efforts to identify and prevent fraud related to the PUA following a steady increase in claims in recent weeks.
The PUA program has been a steadily increasing target for fraud due to its lack of wage verification, according to CDLE.
Due to the increased efforts, CDLE said that a hold has been applied to more than 5,000 claims.
CDLE said that most legitimate claims that had benefits incorrectly put on hold should be resolved within the next week.
The PUA program, like all other associated federal CARES act programs, will expire at the end of the year.
CDLE said that if claims are still on hold after PUA expires, it will make every effort to provide any due benefits via backpay.
The expiration of the CARES act will also mean the end of SEB reimbursement from the federal government and the PEUC program, unless new legislation is passed by Congress.
Unemployment data for the week ending Nov. 14
CDLE reported 9,171 weekly regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims for the most recent week.
CLDE also reported that the number of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed the week ending Nov. 7 has been revised down to 6,121 from 7,281.
The number of PUA claims for the week ending Nov. 14 are not available yet as CDLE continues to analyze why claims have increased in recent weeks. CDLE says future revisions to the PUA claim numbers are expected.
"Nationally, the PUA program has been inundated with fraud since its inception under the CARES Act," CDLE said.
CDLE reported distributing $32.4 million in regular UI benefits for the week ending Nov. 14.
Since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic was declared, 601,964 UI claims have been filed, and in total 785,692 claims have been filed including federal PUA benefits.
For the week ending Nov. 7, a total of 224.076 continued unemployment claims were filed, including 86,142 from regular UI, 78,759 from PUA, and 59,157 from federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits.
Benefits paid since March 29, according to CDLE:
- Regular UI: $2.24 billion
- PUA (gig workers/self-employed): $793.3 million
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
($600 a week in extra UI benefits to eligible claimants): $2.49 billion
- PEUC (extends unemployment benefits by up to 13 weeks): $200 million
- State Extended Benefits (extends unemployment benefits an additional 13 weeks): $11.7 million
- Lost Wages Assistance program ($300 a week in extra UI benefits to eligible claimants from the federal government): $378.6 million
- Total: $6.12 billion
Industries with highest initial claims for the week ending Oct. 31, according to CDLE:
- Accommodation and Food Services: 864 (16.9% of claims that week)
- Construction: 700 (13.7%)
- Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services: 518 (10.1%)
- Healthcare and Social Assistance: 450 (8.8%)
- Retail Trade: 434 (8.5%)
- Manufacturing: 303 (5.9%)
- Professional and Technical Services: 259 (5.1%)
- Transportation and Warehousing: 227 (4.4%)
- Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation: 206 (4.0%)
- Other Services: 192 (3.8%)
The number of Americans seeking unemployment aid rose last week to 742,000, the first increase in five weeks and a sign that the resurgent viral outbreak is likely slowing the economy and forcing more companies to cut jobs.
The worsening pandemic and the arrival of cold weather could accelerate layoffs in the weeks ahead. Of the roughly 20 million Americans now receiving some form of unemployment benefits, about half will lose those benefits when two federal programs expire at the end of the year.
The Labor Department's report Thursday showed that applications for jobless aid rose from 711,000 in the previous week. In March, when the pandemic first intensified, the number had soared to 6.9 million. Before then, applications typically hovered about 225,000 a week.
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