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More than 600 federal workers in Colorado file for unemployment amid partial government shutdown

As the partial government shutdown approaches day 18, hundreds of Coloradans apply for unemployment benefits.

DENVER — Out of the around 50,000 federal workers impacted by the partial government shutdown in Colorado, 625 of them have filed for unemployment. 

Although it's a small number in comparison, the claims aren't easy to file for the state's Department of Labor and Employment. 

"One of the complications is that in a normal unemployment claim process, we would go to the employer and ask for a verification of wages," said Cher Haavind, Department of Labor and Employment spokeswoman." In this case, we're not able to make contact with the employer, so the claimant really can help us through the process by presenting a pay stub or a verification of earnings." 

Coloradans submit for unemployment benefits online, and Haavind said there will be questions about searching for another job, but that requirement is waived for federal workers because they still have a job. 

About half of the people who have filed for benefits so far work for the Department of the Interior, 20 percent work for the Department of Agriculture and 11 percent work for the Department of the Treasury. 

RELATED: Government shutdown has furloughed Castle Rock mom worried about next paycheck

If these workers are eligible for back pay after the government reopens, they have to pay back those benefits.

"It certainly could be a contributing factor to the small number of claims we've seen," Haavind said. 

Out of the 625 who have filed, 14 percent are federal contractors, and many of them will never get back pay. 

It will still be 4 to 6 weeks from the date claims were filed before any federal workers see the money.

"Right now though it doesn't hurt to go and file a claim, get the process started because certainly there is no answer as of today," Haavind said. "So might as well go ahead and start the process to see if you are eligible for benefits." 

The state's Department of Labor and Employment has dedicated a team to answering questions for federal workers. You can reach our through their Twitter and Facebook pages.

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