May 20, 2021 - News

Colorado to offer cash bonus to get people back to work

Weekly unemployment claims in Colorado
Data: Colorado Department of Labor and Employment; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Following the lead of other states, Colorado will offer a cash bonus to incentivize unemployed people to return to work.

What's happening: The governor announced Wednesday that the state will give a $1,600 check to unemployed workers who start a full-time job in the final two weeks of May. The bonus decreases to $1,200 for those who get a job in June.

  • An estimated 60,000 workers receiving regular unemployment are eligible; those receiving pandemic unemployment benefits and certain other claimants are not qualified under the terms of the executive order.

Why it matters: A worker shortage is driving states to take action to boost their employment ranks.

  • At least three other states — including Montana and Arizona — are offering bonuses up to $2,000 to spur people back to work.
  • More than 20 other states are ending unemployment benefits early, arguing that extra pandemic-era benefits are disincentivizing people from looking for work.

Between the lines: The Polis administration adopted a little-noticed emergency rule earlier in May that disqualifies people from receiving benefits if they fail to complete pre-employment activities, attend a scheduled interview or show up for the first day of work.

  • The move came after complaints from employers, labor department spokesperson Jessica Smith told Axios.

Yes, but: Colorado is pledging to pay federal unemployment benefits to those who qualify until they expire Sept. 6.


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