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Colorado has paid out more than $2 billion in unemployment benefits since March

More than 540,000 people -- or more than one in six Colorado workers -- have filed for unemployment in Colorado since the coronavirus crisis began

The Fox Theater in Montrose is closed as life in Colorado shuts down in response to the new coronavirus. (William Woody, Special to The Colorado Sun)
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Colorado has paid out more than $2.2 billion in unemployment benefits since late March as about 23,000 more people last week filed for aid from the state after losing their jobs.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment says the payout figure includes money paid out as part of regular unemployment benefit as well as to gig and self-employed workers now eligible for aid under Congress’ coronavirus response bill.

The sum also includes the extra $600 per week people without jobs are getting or have received thanks to the congressional aid package, known as the CARES Act.

More than 540,000 people — or more than one in six Colorado workers — have filed for unemployment in Colorado since the coronavirus crisis began, the state labor department says.

Last week, 12,941 people traditionally eligible for aid submitted unemployment claims in Colorado, up slightly from 12,149 the week before. The numbers mark the first increase in filings after six straight weeks of declining claims in the state.

Another 10,151 gig and self-employed workers sought help.

Nationally, about 1.5 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, evidence that many Americans are still losing their jobs even as the economy appears to be slowly recovering with more businesses partially reopening.

The latest figure from the U.S. Labor Department marked the 10th straight weekly decline in applications for jobless aid since they peaked in mid-March when the coronavirus hit hard. Still, the pace of layoffs remains historically high.

The total number of people who are receiving unemployment aid fell slightly, a sign that some people who were laid off when restaurants, retail chains and small businesses suddenly shut down have been recalled to work.

Last week’s national jobs report showed that employers added 2.5 million jobs in May, an unexpected increase that suggested that the job market has bottomed out.

But the recovery has begun slowly. Though the national unemployment rate unexpectedly declined from 14.7%, it is still a high 13.3%. And even with the May hiring gain, just one in nine jobs that were lost in March and April have returned. Nearly 21 million people are officially classified as unemployed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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