DENVER — Colorado labor officials are warning everyone who receives unemployment benefits to be prepared to receive less compensation as the $600 weekly benefit from the federal government is set to expire this Saturday, July 26.
CDLE officials said unless action is taken by Congress within the next 24 hours to extend those benefits there will be a gap in payment.
"We know about as much as you do with what action Congress might take," said Cher Haavind with CDLE.
They also said the length of that gap could be two to three business days or weeks depending on what action Congress takes.
If it's a simple extension or a set dollar amount reduction, it shouldn't take them long to get things back up and running. If it's something more complicated it might take them a lot longer to reprogram their systems.
"Certainly we will notify claimants when they could expect to see those benefits, but unfortunately now we don't have much more to share," Haavind said. "We are attempting to at least notify people who might not know they're set to expire and point them to other support services and resources. For some, this will be a fairly dramatic impact."
She also made it clear that regular benefits administered by the state and will not be affected and those claims should be left open.
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced that regular initial unemployment dropped back below 9,000 for the week ending July 18.
There were 8,486 regular initial unemployment claims and 9,233 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed during that week. Since mid-March, a total of 502,057 regular unemployment initial claims have been filed and a grand total of 651,126 claims, including federal PUA benefits.
For the week ending July 11, there were 10,506 regular claims, which was the most since mid-June, according to CDLE.
The department also announced Thursday that it has paid out over $3.7 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29. That amount includes regular unemployment benefits, and those filing Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) claims, which provides eligible claimants an extra $600 in federal benefits each week.
CDLE also provided an update on its virtual agent system which was launched earlier this month. Haavind said there were about 159,000 sessions with the "bot" and that the virtual agent had a nearly 90% accuracy when answering questions. Meaning that most people were able to get their questions answering without having to schedule a call back session.
In early August, the bot will be able to provide claim specific information.
At the federal level, the number of laid-off Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose last week for the first time since the pandemic struck in March, evidence of the deepening economic pain the outbreak is causing to the economy.
The rise in weekly jobless claims to 1.4 million underscores the outsize role the unemployment insurance system is playing among the nation’s safety net programs — just when a $600 weekly federal aid payment for the jobless is set to expire at the end of this week.
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Local stories from 9NEWS