At least 196 furloughed federal employees in Colorado have applied for unemployment benefits from the state, a number that will likely rise as the government enters its second week of a partial shutdown.
Cher Haavind, director of communications for the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, confirmed the number Monday, several days before Congress was scheduled to reconvene.
About 53,000 federal employees live in the state. Not all are affected by the partial shutdown, but furloughed workers can apply for financial assistance through the department’s website, Haavind said.
“Any period of joblessness, especially this time of year is very difficult,” she said. “So having available resources at the state level is critical.”
Haavind said the state benefits can average up to 50 percent of a worker’s weekly wages, with a maximum weekly payout of $600.
The claims typically take four tosix weeks to process, she added.
Additionally, if Congress agrees to include back pay for furloughed time in a new spending bill, Coloradans receiving money from the state will be expected to pay back their unemployment assistance.
“Unfortunately it’s not a very cut and dry process,” Haavind said.
Democrats in the House of Representatives are expected to introduce a bill aimed at reopening the government when Congress reconvenes this week. President Donald Trump has refused to sign a bill that does not include funding for a border wall along the country’s southern border with Mexico.
Parts of the government, including the National Parks Service and Commerce Department, have been closed since Dec. 22.