(The Center Square) - Colorado experienced the nation's fourth-highest increase in new unemployment claims last week, a recent study found.
The study by WalletHub compared all 50 states against three metrics: total claims in a week compared to the same week in 2019, total claims since the beginning of 2020, and the total claims since the beginning of the pandemic.
Colorado's Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) received 19,024 new unemployment claims last week. An additional 17,232 Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims were also filed.
That week, Colorado paid $34.5 million in unemployment benefits, and 43% of the claims filed were from restaurant and hospitality workers after health orders halted dine-in services.
Since the beginning of the year, unemployment claims in Colorado have skyrocketed by 704%. The state also saw a 516% change in unemployment claims last week when compared to the week ending December 5, 2019, the study says.
In all, Colorado has paid $6.4 billion in unemployment benefits since the end of March, according to CDLE data. One-third of that total is from federal unemployment benefits that paid $600 per week, a program that expired in July.
Only Kansas, New Mexico, and Illinois outpaced Colorado's numbers. Georgia has seen the most growth in unemployment claims filed since the beginning of the pandemic. Colorado ranks 14th in that metric.
Total claims are down significantly nationwide, the report found. Last week, 853,000 new unemployment claims were filed. At the height of the pandemic, 6.9 million new unemployment claims were filed in one week. Still, "the increase from the previous week is concerning," the study says.
Only two states have seen their unemployment claim total drop since the first of the year: South Carolina and Connecticut.