DENVER (KDVR) — New data from the U.S. Department of Labor reveals Colorado is the slowest in the nation when it comes to processing unemployment claims.
The FOX31 Problem Solvers found there are several reasons for the delays, including laws that require additional verification before benefits are dispersed.
The Labor Department reported that in December, more than 35% of about 6,700 new unemployment insurance claims filed in Colorado were processed within three weeks.
To put this in perspective, Colorado did a more efficient job of handling claims at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in April 2020. The state is currently processing more than 200,000 claims.
Grace Wilcox is one of many employees left without a job after end-of-the-year layoffs in 2022.
“It was a shock,” she told FOX31.
When Wilcox filed for unemployment benefits, she learned she was also the victim of fraud.
“Someone had filed using my social security number,” she said.
Colorado unemployment still backlogged
Wilcox has been waiting to have her account unlocked to start receiving benefits, but said she is experiencing delays.
“Their site says 10-12 weeks before you get your first check, so I’m thinking April or May maybe,” she said.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said there is a backlog of claims from the pandemic.
A spokesperson told FOX31 that, unlike many other states, Colorado law requires claims staff to adjudicate the job separations on all employers the claimant has worked for in the past 18 months, along with the most recent employer, in order to determine their eligibility. Many other states only require verification of the most recent employer.
Other factors that can slow the process include staff attrition, hiring obstacles and training.
The process is expected to be back on track by March.
Wilcox said she hopes to see improvements for the sake of many others who are waiting for their benefits.
“I have a strong family support system and friends that I can count on, but if people don’t know, then it’s hard to plan for what’s next,” she said.