Labor Numbers Improve Across State
Lake County Sees July Jobs Uptick
Last week’s Colorado Employment Situation – July 2020 distributed by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) reported what many anticipated in terms of the Leadville picture. The more than 5% increase in job recovery can be directly tied to the busy summer season with most of that jump attached to the leisure and hospitality industry as Lake County saw an influx of visitors, allowing staff to expand. A portion of the July’s 8.1% rate for Lake County also represents an uptick in jobs in the education and health services industries. Readers can find some economic highlights as well as a peek at how neighboring counties are doing on the COVID jobs rebound in the data provided below.
For those who are still unemployed, there is some updated information about the “Lost Wage Assistance” Program. It’s the how-much-and-when for those employees and business owners who find themselves not quite out of the dark yet, continuing to receive unemployment and/or pandemic benefits. Readers can find a helpful FAQ section below.
And finally, if you’re looking to keep your skillset fine-tuned there are some upcoming FREE webinars. Check out the programs and links provided at the end of this post, for some employment #NewsYouCanUse from Leadville Today.
According to the survey of households, Colorado’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate decreased to 7.4 percent in July from 10.6 percent, as revised, in June. During the same period, the national unemployment rate declined nine-tenths of a percentage point to 10.2 percent.
Other highlights from the household survey: Colorado’s labor force decreased by 97,500 in July to 3,079,600. The labor force participation rate fell to 66.6 percent, identical to May’s rate.
- The number of individuals employed in Colorado increased by 11,100 in July to 2,851,300, which represents 61.7 percent of the state’s 16+ population. While Colorado’s employment-to-population ratio continues to improve since April, when it was 58.3 percent, it is still well below the February level of 67.7 percent.
- The Colorado counties with the highest unemployment rates in July were: Gilpin (12.0%), Summit (10.1%), Huerfano (9.9%), Pitkin (9.4%), and Eagle (9.4%). County-level unemployment rates are not seasonally adjusted and are directly comparable to Colorado’s July unadjusted rate of 7.4 percent.
- On August 19, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) announced Colorado’s application for the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program was approved and the Department has now begun a system reprogramming effort to administer the new benefits.
- Colorado is one of eight states to date to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program announced earlier this month by President Trump (see below). The LWA program is one of four measures within the Other Needs Assistance program and provides additional unemployment benefits to workers impacted by Covid-19.
What’s The Latest with Benefits?
Readers may recall that on August 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order authorizing FEMA to expend up to $44 billion from its Disaster Relief Fund to provide lost wages assistance to Americans receiving unemployment benefits. So what does that mean for those still collecting benefits in Leadville Today?
While Colorado has not yet finalized the amount of its LWA payments, the program will provide eligible Coloradans with an additional $300 on top of their regular unemployment benefits, with an additional $100 should states be able to identify state funds.
The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) has begun reprogramming its systems to include the new benefits and estimates that claimants will begin receiving LWA benefits in mid to late September. For those who are eligible, payments will be retroactive to the week beginning July 26th and will extend through the week ending August 15th. Colorado’s application for Lost Wages Assistance has been approved initially for this three-week period. The Department will communicate to claimants should Colorado be approved for additional weeks of LWA benefits.
Claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount provided by the LWA program. The additional benefits will be added automatically for all claimants who are eligible to receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments. This includes claimants receiving any type of regular unemployment insurance benefits as well as those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.
“This additional benefit of $300 per week will put at least $265 million into the hands of our unemployed workforce who have been impacted by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, and provides critical support during this time of extreme need,” said Joe Barela, CDLE’s Executive Director.
Colorado is one of the first eight states to apply for the LWA program, and was previously among the first states to implement the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) programs after the CARES Act was signed in April. The LWA program succeeds FPUC, which previously supplemented unemployment benefit payments by $600/week and expired July 25th. Colorado paid over $2.4 billion in FPUC benefits to approximately 560,000 claimants between April and July. Since March 29, more than $4.6 Billion in state and federal unemployment benefits has been paid to more than 560,000 Coloradans. Colorado has consistently paid benefits on more than 80% of initial claims filed and Colorado ranks in the top five states who have timely benefit payment (within 21 days), according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. The balance of claims filed awaiting payment are greatly due to an individual’s monetary eligibility and errors in claimants requesting benefit payments.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- When will claimants see their LWA benefit payment?
- CDLE anticipates mid-September
- Does the state plan to pay individuals the $100 match under the federal program?
- That is undecided at this time
- How much in administrative funding did the Department receive?
- How long will the funds last?
- Colorado, like all states that have applied thus far, has been awarded three weeks of funding at this point (covering July 26th- August 15th). FEMA is waiting to see how many states in total apply (application period ends Sept 10th) before allowing states to request additional weeks. It is not certain that this will be limited to just three weeks, we may not know that for some time.
- Do claimants need to take any action to receive the new benefits?
- Claimants do not have to take any action to receive the additional benefit amount provided by the LWA program. The additional benefits will be added automatically for all claimants who are eligible to receive at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefit payments. This includes claimants receiving any type of regular unemployment insurance benefits as well as those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits.
- How many people will not be eligible for the benefits due to the $100/week requirement?
- About 6% of claims are less than $100 making those claimants ineligible. We have approx. 300,000 active claims so give or take 28,000.
Keep Your Skill Set Sharp!
In other employment news, there are a number of upcoming Workforce programs that are free and available online. Here are the info and links to register.
Technology Innovation—it’s how we tip disruption in your favor and energize rural communities. The Central Mountain SBDC is hosting a regional webinar focusing on the Colorado SBDC TechSource: Commercialization program offering many small business support opportunities. This program is designed to maximize the economic potential of Colorado science and technology companies especially those in the advanced industries through no-cost, customized, expert consulting and relevant in-person and online workshops and events. We will also share access to capital, government funding options and accelerator research labs. The idea with this regional webinar is to shape the future with breakthrough technologies and offer a like-minded meetup group to inspire new innovations in Chaffee, Lake and Park counties. Please join them Sept. 17!
What The Webinar Will Cover?
- SBIR/STTR and Advanced Industry grant opportunities for early-stage seed funding
- Technology commercialization and go-to-market strategies
- IP protection/assistance with the patent process
- R&D tax credits • Market research,
- Market sizing, strategic and tactical planning
- Business growth issues
- Access to capital
Pandemic Pandemonium: 2020 Employment Law Update
The COVID-19 pandemic unleashed the most rapid release of regulatory changes employers have faced in a single year. Executive and public health orders and changes in state and federal employment law often create more questions than answers. Join the Northwest Workforce team and employment law specialists Michael Santo (Bechtel, Santo & Severn) and Tina Harkness (Mountain States Employers Council) to learn about ever-unfolding legislative and policy changes businesses need to know.
- COVID-related legislation
- Equal Pay Act
- Paid time off
- State and federal employment law updates
- Legal actions
Two chances to attend this free, interactive webinar on Pandemic Pandemonium
- Wednesday, Aug. 26 from 9 – 10:30 a.m.
- Tuesday, Sept. 1 from 11:30 – 1 p.m. Space is limited.
Featured speakers include Michael Santo, Partner @ Betchel, Santo, & Severn.
Michael Santo began practicing law in his home state of Michigan in 1992 after receiving his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and his law degree from the University of Detroit. After graduating from law school, he fulfilled a life long dream of moving to Colorado when he accepted a position with Dufford, Waldeck, Milburn & Krohn and later cofounded with Betty Bechtel the firm of Bechtel & Santo, which became Bechtel Santo & Severn in 2018. Since 1994, Michael has focused his practice on defending companies in employment litigation, including race, sex, age, national origin, religious, and disability discrimination lawsuits; wrongful discharge; and wage and hour matters. In addition, he regularly represents employers in prosecuting and defending claims of trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, and employee raiding.
Tina Harkness, Esq., SPHR, Director, Northern Regional Office @ Employers Council.
Tina joined the Employers Council as a staff attorney in the Employment Law Services Department in 1998. She became the Information Resource Manager, in charge of EC’s legal publications, in 2005. Along with her work in publications, she is a frequent speaker and facilitates training of human resource professionals, managers, supervisors, and employees in legal issues in managing employees, harassment prevention, civil rights, managing employee medical issues, diversity, and other subjects. She specializes in legal counseling and represents management in a wide variety of legal matters. She is also the chair of EC’s High Country and Western Slope Committee. Tina’s favorite part of working at EC is assisting members by answering their questions and brainstorming solutions to their workplace problems.