More than 8,500 file for unemployment in Colorado, COVID spike threatens more jobs

New unemployment claims remained mostly flat in Colorado last week with another 8,585 people filing for support, but trouble looms as COVID-19 infections spike and more business restrictions are put in place.

The 8,585 new filings are a 1.4% drop compared to new claims filed during the week ending Oct. 17, data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment shows. The number of people seeking support shot up 13% at the beginning of October. The weekly flow of new claims has hovered between 8,200 and 8,800 through the month.

Those figures are well below what the state saw in spring when tens of thousands of people were filing claims every week but still above the previous historic highs set during the Great Recession.

Part of what has kept new filings relatively level recently is so many people — 760,187 Coloradans and counting — have already sought support during the pandemic. Of those, 221,036 people filed continued claims during the week of Oct. 17, and 49,759 are on extended federal benefits that go beyond the 26 weeks provided by the state, labor department data shows.

There is reason to believe filings could spike again in the coming months. On Tuesday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock announced that because of a recent spike in cases of the new coronavirus the city was tightening health restrictions. That includes capping the capacity inside most businesses at 25% and moving last call at bars and restaurants up to 10 p.m.

Colorado’s hospitality industry has been hardest hit with job losses since the pandemic began. Cold weather that could make dining or waiting in lines outside shops less palatable could lead to a surge in job losses in the restaurant and retail sectors, according to a new report from online payroll and benefits company Gusto. retail and hospitality jobs could be lost in the Denver metro area this winter. That without account for the impact of tighter health restrictions. “]

Many restaurants across the metro area have invested thousands in outdoor dining options meant to keep patrons warm and safe from the virus. The city announced on Wednesday that it has put $435,000 into a grant fund to help bars and restaurants pay for those costs. If cases continue to rise, however, and a full dine-in shutdown was to be ordered job losses could mount quickly, economists project.

Nationally, new unemployment filings fell to 751,000 last week, 40,000 fewer than the week before and the lowest total since March. With new infections on the rise in almost every state and Congress all but certain not to pass another stimulus bill this year, consumer confidence fell in October after a big rise in September, the Associated Press reports.

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