DENVER (AP) – More than 46,000 people filed for unemployment benefits in Colorado last week as coronavirus-related job losses continued, the state labor department said Thursday.

Over the last three weeks, 127,393 initial unemployment claims have been filed, about 25,000 more than were filed in all of 2019. Last week, Colorado paid $29.8 million in unemployment benefits, more than the average of $19 million in benefits paid out each week during the height of the Great Recession.

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The most recently available industry-specific statistics show that hotels and restaurant workers have been hit hard by the outbreak. During the week of March 21, workers in the accommodation and food services sector accounted for over a quarter of applications for unemployment benefits.

The Colorado Department of Labor & Employment

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (credit: CBS)

The other four top fields where workers had lost jobs were health care and social services — including dentist and chiropractor offices and daycare centers; personal services like nail and hair salons and barbers; arts, entertainment; and recreation and retail trade.

While gig and self-employed workers are eligible to collect unemployment payments under the federal $2.2 trillion economic rescue package, Colorado is still working to change its system to be able to evaluate and process those claims after getting guidance from the federal government on Sunday.

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The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment hopes to be able to start accepting those claims next week, spokeswoman Cher Haavind said. Such workers will be able to file for retroactive benefits back through the first week of February or whenever they were first affected by the economic shutdown.

Nationally, more than one in 10 workers have lost their jobs in just the past three weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Additional Resources

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will discuss “policy changes that have been made to support our workforce on the federal and state level, what resources are available to business and employees, and the process for making unemployment claims” in a “webinar” on Thursday at 2 p.m. Click here to register for it.

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