First-time claims for unemployment insurance benefits in Colorado fell 20.6% to 10,270 in the week ended June 13, the lowest weekly total in the past three months, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment reported Thursday.
The total for last week, though, is still higher than any other week before state restrictions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a wave of business closures.
Claims by self-employed persons, independent contractors and “gig” workers surged nearly 77% to 17,945, the highest weekly total since the first week the department began taking such claims in April. That is the second consecutive week such claims have increased by more than 50%.
Cher Roybal Haavind, the department’s deputy director, attributed the surge to a combination of suspected fraud and those workers losing gig work after exhausting traditional unemployment benefits.
The department has received 568,721 initial claims of all types since the restrictions began, including 456,763 regular unemployment initial claims and nearly 112,000 claims by self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers. As a result, the agency has paid out about $2.5 billion in unemployment benefits since March 29.
In the Colorado Springs area, initial claims for regular unemployment benefits fell 15% to 1,337 in the week ended May 30, while claims from self-employed, independent contractors and gig workers jumped nearly 58% to nearly 1,600 during the following week ended June 6. The number of claims filed from the area in the past three months totals nearly 56,000, or 15.7% of the labor force at the time the restrictions began.