Unemployed? Colorado could pay you $1,600 to get back to work

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DENVER (KDVR) – Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) are hoping a new monetary incentive program will help get unemployed Coloradans back to working full time.

Under the Colorado Jumpstart incentive program initiated Wednesday, some unemployed people are eligible to receive an incentive of up to $1,600 to support the transition into full-time work.

To be eligible for an incentive, Colorado’s unemployed workers must have received at least one week of unemployment benefits of $25 or more between March 28, 2021, and May 16, 2021, and have verified their identities via ID.me.

The move is seen as a way to address what many employers are calling a worker shortage. 

“All of our stores are one or two people short, and that hurts, you know?” said Juan Padro, CEO of Culinary Creative and Tap and Burger, a restaurant with several locations across the Denver Metro.  

“It’s not going to solve the problem, but it’s going to help,” Padro said.

The Colorado Restaurant Association said it welcomes the incentive, but the group has concerns.

“This wasn’t specifically targeted at those most hurt industries that need the most employees. It’s for any industry, and so only time will tell if this truly helps the restaurants,” said Sonia Riggs, the CRA’s president and CEO. “But you know it is certainly something we are exciting to see and hope that we will see a difference here in the coming months.” 

A full list of eligibility requirements is posted on ColoradoUI.gov.

Eligible claimants who return to work within the guidelines in May will receive a Colorado Jumpstart incentive of $1,600. Those who return to work full time within the guidelines in June will receive an incentive of $1,200.

Newly employed workers must maintain full-time employment for at least eight weeks to receive the full incentive. The incentive payments are expected to be issued during July and August and will be distributed in two installments.

Claimants will become eligible for the first half of the incentive after approximately four weeks of full-time employment and will become eligible for the remaining half after approximately eight weeks.

“More than a year after this pandemic swept through Colorado, we know that many Coloradans are not completely back on their feet just yet. That’s why we are taking this important step to provide support to those who need it most as they transition back into the workforce,” said CDLE Executive Director Joe Barela. “This won’t just help Coloradans, it’s going to help businesses to have a productive workforce, ready to power our economy and comeback.”

Claimants currently receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, workshare claimants, and out-of-state claimants are not eligible for the incentive program. For more information please visit ColoradoUI.gov. Coloradans can also view the factsheet here.

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