Colorado unemployment claims soar 737% amid virus shutdown

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment website

DENVER (AP) — Colorado had more than 19,000 unemployment claims last week — a 737% increase from the previous week — as businesses laid off workers amid the coronavirus economic shutdown.

“The highest weekly count of initial claims during the Great Recession occurred during the week of January 9, 2010 at 7,749,” the labor department said in a statement.

Gov. Jared Polis shuttered thousands of non-essential businesses including ski resorts in peak season and banned in-house service at thousands of restaurants and bars.

The measures are designed to reduce the coronavirus transmission rate and accelerated Colorado’s unemployment claims, especially in the food and hospitality industries.

“We know during these uncertain times there is a high level of stress on so many Coloradans, and benefits like unemployment are a critical lifeline to those who are suddenly finding themselves out of work,” said Joe Barela, the executive director of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. “We are continuously reevaluating our systems to expand capacity and enhance stability and are working nonstop to meet the demand.” 

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