DENVER (AP) – With federal help, Colorado and other states are preparing to expand unemployment benefits for workers displaced by the coronavirus. But state labor officials say the new help won’t come until mid-April as virus-related jobless claims soar.
Colorado is fielding as many as 20,000 claims a day, compared with 2,000 a week in February, before the pandemic hit with force.
Preliminary figures suggest more than 61,000 people applied through Thursday, easily topping last week’s record of over 19,700 initial claims. Colorado will offer unemployment payments to gig workers, independent contractors and others currently not eligible.
Benefits will rise from an average of $600 a week to $1,000.
Gov. Jared Polis’ orders to close thousands of non-essential businesses accelerated Colorado’s unemployment claims, especially in the food and hospitality industries.
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