Why Colorado Must Act on Unemployment

The widespread disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic has already begun to create an economic shock that is rippling across our state. Over the past week, unemployment claims have climbed significantly, reaching 10,000 claims per day in the last two days. The Economic Policy Institute estimates by the summer over 97,000 jobs will be lost across Colorado. 

Critically, there are areas of Colorado that will feel a much deeper impact than others. While we cannot perfectly predict which jobs will be lost due to social distancing measures, we can identify areas in Colorado that have high shares of jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries. These jobs are expected to be affected because they frequently require social interactions.

Already these are industries that have been impacted by Governor Polis’ executive orders, shuttering ski resorts, bars, restaurants, and similar businesses. Failure to support individuals in these communities threatens the economic well-being of whole counties in Colorado, particularly those in the mountains that rely on tourism. When we include retail businesses, the impact becomes more widespread. However, not all retail businesses will be equally impacted. Grocery stores will remain open, while salons and other businesses will close.

How Colorado’s Unemployment Insurance System Can Help 

Unemployment insurance is the mechanism best equipped to deal with this widespread job loss. Shoring up unemployment insurance can help ensure those who lose their job still have some income to help cover essential costs. Moreover, unemployment insurance can cover even a partial reduction of work hours, helping mitigate total job loss. Additional federal funds can help ensure that that everyone who needs assistance can receive it in a timely manner by waiving waiting periods and other requirements that are onerous during a public health crisis.  

jobs in retail, leisure, and hospitality

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