First-time unemployment claims in Colorado continued to climb last week, fueled by mounting job losses in the hotel and restaurant industry.
The 17,130 claims from payroll workers during the week ending Nov. 28 was up 12.6% from the previous week and the highest total since 17,825 claims were filed in the week ending May 16, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported Thursday.
Claims for payroll workers have increased for six consecutive weeks. The department has received 643,484 claims from payroll workers since mid-March, when the pandemic took hold.
Ryan Gedney, the department’s senior economist, said job losses in hotels, bars and restaurants, construction and schools have fueled increases in recent weeks, accounting for more than 40% of claims. Colder weather has played a role for restaurants and construction, curbing outdoor dining and slowing construction, while schools have cut bus drivers, food service and other support staff as many school districts have moved to online learning, he said.
Claims from restaurants and bars likely will accelerate in coming weeks as most of Colorado’s urban counties have moved into a higher COVID status that includes bans on indoor dining and earlier closing times for bars.
Gedney said nearly half of the claims filed last week were from workers who had lost jobs for a second time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The share of such “reopened” claims typically is 10% to 20%.
The department also received 14,242 claims last week from self-employed persons, independent contractors and “gig” workers under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. That is nearly double the total from the previous week and the third-highest weekly total in the seven months since the program started.
The agency also said it revised claims downward for the weeks between Sept. 27 and Nov. 7 by 11,667, after a review of recent claims activity in the program for fraudulent claims.
The number of Coloradans receiving unemployment benefits in the week ended Nov. 21 fell to 208,330, off 1.2% from the previous week.