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Unemployed in Colorado await additional federal assistance


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - Experts are weighing in on unemployment in Colorado as we near the end of 2020.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reported the unemployment rate was 12.2 percent at the height of the pandemic in April -- the highest rate on record.

The CDLE reported the unemployment rate was 6.4 percent as of November -- still more than twice as high as it averaged for all of last year.

Sunday, President Donald Trump signed a COVID-19 relief package into law to provide more financial assistance to people unemployed because of the pandemic.

The CDLE announced Monday the additional assistance will not be immediately available, as it waits for federal guidance on the extensions, and reprograms systems based on that guidance. Right now it's unclear when the new assistance will roll out.

The new federal assistance will extend Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) 11 weeks through March 13, providing payments to people out of work due to the pandemic who've run out of regular unemployment funds.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will also extend to March 13 for self-employed persons, gig economy workers, independent contractors and other people who don't qualify for regular unemployment.

The new relief package will provide an additional $300 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefit to eligible claimants for 11 weeks through March 13, as well.

According to the state's website, State Extended Benefits (SEB) are currently "off" because Colorado's insured unemployment rate (percent of people on regular unemployment, not including federal programs) fell back below five percent. The last payable period of SEB is the week ending November 28.

While more financial assistance is on its way, Ryan Gedney with the CDOL told KRDO he doesn't see Colorado's unemployment situation changing anytime soon.

"I don't anticipate it to exceed or even really approach what we saw at the very beginning of the pandemic, but I would expect, at least through March, probably levels similar to what we've been seeing over the last month or so," Gedney explained.

He said restrictions on restaurants, the hospitality industry and personal services have had the biggest impacts on unemployment levels in Colorado.

If you've exhausted all of your unemployment benefits, you can find other ways to help pay for rent, food, and more on the state's assistance programs page.

The Pikes Peak Workforce center is also providing free online skills training and other resources for people on the job hunt.

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Julia Donovan


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