Today’s Department of Labor data on unemployment insurance claims show state unemployment numbers “remain astonishingly high,” according to the Economic Policy Institute — and Colorado is among the hardest hit.
Along with New York, South Carolina, Connecticut, Mississippi, and West Virginia, Colorado last week saw its highest level of initial UI claim filings ever.
For Colorado, initial UI claims jumped 5,148 percent compared with the pre-virus period (the four-week average of initial claims for the weeks ending Feb. 15-March 7). For comparison, New York’s initial UI claims increased by 2,048 percent, New Mexico’s increased by 2,652 percent and Louisiana’s increased by 4,648 percent.
DOL’s data for Colorado showed the following.
• Initial claims filed: 105,073
• Percent change from the prior week: 127 percent
• Level change from the prior week: 58,747
• Level change from pre-virus period: 103,169
• Sum of initial claims for the five weeks ending April 11: 235,332
EPI, a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank, said most other states had fewer initial UI claims last week than the week prior. But nationwide, another 5 million people (not seasonally adjusted) filed for UI last week. And over the past four weeks, more than 20 million workers — whose financial security has been “upended by the coronavirus crisis and inadequate policy responses” — filed for UI.
For 9.2 million workers in the last four weeks, losing their job meant also losing their employer-provided health insurance, the EPI state.
“The federal government should expand Medicare and Medicaid to these workers so that they are able to seek care during the pandemic, should they need it,” the EPI said in its report. “The United States could also follow the lead of other countries, such as Denmark and the Netherlands, by undertaking other transformative measures to guarantee paychecks to all workers.”
Southern states are faring particularly poorly, according to the EPI. Seven of the 10 states that had the highest percent change last week relative to the pre-virus period are Southern: Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Louisiana, Kentucky, South Carolina and Alabama.
But even California and Michigan — the two states with the largest decline since the week before — still had 661,000 and 219,000 claims filed last week, respectively. That was the third highest week on record for both.
“These UI claims represent a devastating loss of income and security for workers and their families and also have exacerbated existing inequalities,” according to the EPI. “Women have been overrepresented in the number of job losses so far. The leisure and hospitality sector, which has laid off the most workers, disproportionately employs immigrants and people of color.”