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State labor officials provide update on January unemployment in Colorado

CDLE reviewed the January employment situation in Colorado during a Monday morning briefing.

COLORADO, USA — The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) held a news briefing Monday to review the January employment situation for Colorado and provide an update on federal benefits after President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion rescue package into law last Thursday.

CDLE's latest report on the state's jobs picture shows nonfarm payroll jobs in Colorado rose by 32,000 from December to January for a total of 2,658,700 jobs, according to a survey of business establishments.

Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased in January to 6.6% from the revised December rate of 6.9%, according to a survey of households. The national unemployment rate dropped by four-tenths of a percentage point from December to 6.3%, CDLE said.

CDLE said the January unemployment data came during a time when the number of COVID-19 cases in the state were declining, which resulted in loosening restrictions for many businesses.

Private sector payroll jobs increased by 28,400, while the government added 3,600 jobs. CDLE said Colorado has gained back 215,500 of the 375,800 nonfarm payroll jobs lost between February and April. That translated to a job recovery rate of 57.3%, which exceeds the U.S. rate of 55.8%, according to CDLE.

Other highlights from the household survey include:

  • Colorado’s labor force grew by 6,700 in January to 3,183,200. The labor force participation rate increased by one-tenth of a percentage point to 68.6%.
  • The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 15,000 in January to 2,972,300, which represents 64.0% of the state’s 16+ population. 
  • The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in January were: Huerfano (9.8%), Pueblo (9.3%), Gilpin (8.1%), Fremont (8.1%), Las Animas (7.9%), and Mesa (7.9%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s January unadjusted rate of 6.9 percent.

Colorado’s peak unemployment rate, as recently revised, was 12.1% in April 2020, CDLE said. Details on the February 2021 unemployment situation in the state will be released at 8 a.m. Friday, March 26. 

Latest on federal unemployment benefits

CDLE officials also provided an update on the rollout of the American Rescue Plan after Biden signed a new $1.9 trillion rescue package last Thursday.

CDLE took the My UI system down for updates from 7 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Saturday. After that, claimants were able to go back into the system and see the additional federal funds placed on their claims, CDLE said.

CDLE called it a successful rollout that avoided gaps in payments for claimants receiving federal benefits. The stimulus bill extends multiple federal unemployment programs through the week ending Sep. 4.

Some programs were extended past that date, but CDLE said the effective end date for federal unemployment benefits will be the week ending Sep. 4 unless there is further legislation.

The American Rescue Plan also offers a 2020 tax break on up to $10,000 in unemployment benefits.

Update on Colorado unemployment benefits paid out

CDLE estimated 11,944 new regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims were filed for the week ending March 6, and $32.5 million in benefits were paid out.

The regular UI data continue to be estimates adjusted for fraud, and CDLE said that there will be revisions made back through the roll out of the My UI system in January at some point.

There were also 1,454 new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims filed in the same week, CDLE reported.

CDLE said it has revised the number of initial PUA claims for the past four weeks, per DOL, to reflect only claimants who are filing new a PUA claim or who found intervening employment before reapplying to the PUA program.

Claims that were removed from the previous counts of initial PUA claims were existing claims that had a break in filing not related to new employment.

The updated PUA totals provided by CDLE are listed below:

  • Week ending Feb. 6: 520 
  • Week ending Feb. 13: 198 
  • Week ending Feb. 20: 166 
  • Week ending Feb. 27: 2,137

For the week ending Feb. 27, a total of 207,686 continued claims were filed, including 91,354 from regular UI, 56,267 from PUA, and 60,065 from the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program.

Since mid-March of 2020, CDLE estimates 857,960 regular UI claims have been filed, and a total of 1,114,359 claims have been filed including PUA benefits.

RELATED: Colorado estimates nearly 12,000 new weekly unemployment claims, no gap in federal benefits

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