Colorado Department of Labor and Employment officials reported processing more than $83 million in new contract worker claims payouts in the first two days.

Saturday was the first time Colorado gig, or contract, workers were able to file new claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

After taking computers down Friday night, CDLE started processing new PUA claims early Saturday and reported distributing more than $83 million to more than 85,000 people.

Phase 1 for those contract workers started Feb. 1 and covered those who had existing balances when the first round of funding expired Dec. 26.

Additionally, those who exhausted “regular” state unemployment claims were able to apply for up to 11 weeks more of payments through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation beginning Saturday.

The CDLE reported Feb. 13 that 184,755 continued claims were filed from the unemployment insurance program and for “phase one” contract workers.

Those continued claims were filed by 129,181 individuals (each week of back pay can be a new claim).

“We appreciate everyone’s patience during this stressful time of economic hardship,” said Joe Barela, CDLE executive director. “My team has been working nonstop to make sure eligible Coloradans will get paid as soon as possible.

“Not only did their hard work result in the Phase 2 launch arriving two days ahead of schedule, but it also allowed most claimants to certify their back weeks a day earlier than planned as well. This means more Coloradans will see the much-needed funds in their bank accounts next week.”

The CDLE’s contact center is open extra hours Tuesday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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