Archuleta County’s unemployment claims spike with pandemic


By John Finefrock

Staff Writer

According to data from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), residents of Archuleta County filed 268 initial unemployment claims for the week ending on March 28.

In 2019, Archuleta County averaged seven initial unemployment claims per week, according to the same data.

Initial unemployment claims are unemployment applications that have been submitted but have not yet been vetted for eligibility through things like wage verification, according to CDLE.

There were fewer than six Archuleta County initial unemployment claims for the weeks ending on March 7 and March 14, according to the CDLE.

The week ending March 21 had 70 initial unemployment claims from Archuleta County, which jumped to 268 the next week.

Across the state, initial unemployment claims dramatically spiked in the weeks after Gov. Jared Polis ordered all ski areas to close on March 14 and mandated the closure of all dine-in services in bars and restaurants a few days later.

Statewide, unemployment claims ranged from about 1,900 to 3,200 for each of the first weeks in March, then spiked to 24,054 initial claims the week ending March 21 and rose to 66,491 for the week ending March 28.

The number of claims dropped the next week, but still set record numbers.

“The state recorded 46,065 initial claims for the week ending April 4th. Combined with the 81,328 total initial claims filed the two weeks prior and that adds up to over 127,000 claims filed in a three-week period. For comparison, the total number of annual initial claims filed in 2017, 2018, and 2019 failed to exceed 120,000 for each year,” a document released by the CDLE reads.

Workers from the accommodation and food services industry filed for unemployment at a much higher rate than normal.

According to CDLE, in 2019, accommodation and food service workers made up about 8 percent of initial unemployment claims, and in March and April have comprised about half of total initial unemployment claims each week.