Colorado residents able to file for unemployment beginning Saturday


DENVER  |  Out-of-work residents in Colorado can reopen and file new claims on Saturday after a program distributing pandemic unemployment assistance ended in December, officials said.

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Director Joe Barela said residents can begin filing on Saturday, marking the second launch of federal extended jobless benefits this year, the Colorado Public Radio reported.

The first phase began in February for people who still had money remaining on their account in December, when federal programs funded through the coronavirus relief bill ended.

“They will be able to begin certifying their weeks or the payments filing new claims and reopening if they were moving into programs,” Barela said. “That’s really exciting.”

The state does not know exactly how many people will qualify this weekend but said about 289,000 people were contacted with information about how to sign up for the benefits. The state was delayed in revamping the benefits because it upgraded its system and needed to reprogram the benefit options.

“There are 12 different paths that people can take to get to where they are today on unemployment with regular unemployment and all the federal programs that have come out,” Barela said.

Phil Spesshardt, benefits services manager with the department, said the delay was caused in part by Congress, which waited until the program ended to take any action and then waited for additional information from the U.S. Department of Labor.

About 818,000 people have filed regular initial unemployment claims since the pandemic began in March, officials said. The first week of this month, about 185,000 claims were filed, including continued claims and claims intended to support people who lost jobs because of the pandemic.