Getting Colorado Back To Work
In June of 2021, eight of the top Construction Associations in Colorado, including the Western Colorado Contractors Association, urged the Colorado Governor to have Colorado be one of several states to opt out of federal unemployment benefit programs provided by the federal government that were set to expire on September 6. The construction industry is currently short thousands of employees across the state and most businesses provide benefits that are well beyond a weekly paycheck including health insurance, 401k matching, long term and short term disability benefits, training, educational opportunities, internship programs and more. The construction industry needs workers. Without workers in the industry, the costs of construction and construction related business will increase and have unintended consequences on the economies in Western Colorado and across the state. On July 13, 2021 the Governor’s Office responded:
Governor Polis responded in an email to the associations:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted our state’s economy and workforce, as there are currently more people unemployed than existing available jobs. We are committed to monitoring the data about unemployment assistance and Colorado’s road to economic recovery following the pandemic.
Colorado’s unemployment rate is an estimated 6.2% as of May 2021, which is half of what the unemployment rate was this time last year. As part of the Colorado Comeback and Reemploy Colorado initiatives, the Governor has taken several steps to support Coloradans who are currently unemployed transition back into the workforce. The Governor signed an executive order establishing the Colorado Jumpstart Program that provided $1,200 to $1,600 to unemployed citizens that entered full time employment between May 16th and June 26th of this year. This program not only stimulated the economy and incentivized people back into the workforce but also supported Coloradans that have been financially affected by the pandemic. Colorado was one of the earliest states to reinstate requirements that unemployed Coloradans must be actively searching for a job while receiving unemployment benefits, which was reinstated in February of 2021. Our goal is to remove any barrier preventing Coloradans who feel safe and healthy from returning to the workforce. Please see below for virtual hiring events, helpful workshops, and job support provided by Colorado’s Department of Labor and Employment to support those seeking employment.
The Polis administration continues to monitor our economic recovery, and will keep working towards balancing the needs of our economy with the legitimate hardships that continue to impact our most vulnerable citizens. Ending the federal unemployment benefits now would be premature, and would cause unnecessary suffering for thousands of Coloradans who depend on unemployment to pay for food, housing, and utilities.
In addition to actions taken at the state level, the federal government passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, providing $3.8 billion to assist the State of Colorado on its road to economic recovery by addressing major impacts the coronavirus has had on both businesses and households. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 establishes that those who are unemployed are eligible for up to 29 weeks of stimulus payments, and the State of Colorado estimates that there will not be a gap in benefits for prior claimants who desperately need assistance to get back on their feet following the pandemic. $40 million of the funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will be allocated to small businesses, which is outlined in SB21-291 signed into Colorado law on June 21 of this year.
- Information on Colorado Jumpstart Program: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16hePu_W3NR60ntWhudYqOL2BwLkQOZcp/view
- Information on Extended Benefits Programs: https://cdle.colorado.gov/unemployment/extended-benefits-programs
- UI Daily Dashboard: https://sites.google.com/state.co.us/uidailydashboard
- Past UI Weekly Updates: https://cdle.colorado.gov/ui-weekly-update-archive
- General Information on COVID-19 Vaccine: https://covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine “
Regardless of the outcome of most recent efforts, the Associations in Colorado will continue to work collectively to provide opportunities to try and fill the workforce void including education, future workforce efforts, and information that would benefit employers. If you have questions regarding the current Unemployment benefits provided by the state, please refer to the links provided by the Governor’s office. You may also contact your local and state representatives or contact your local association to express any concerns.