The state of Colorado will pay unemployed Coloradans up to $1,600 to get them to go back to work full-time, the governor’s office announced Wednesday.
Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order to create the “Colorado Jumpstart” incentive program. Those who have been unemployed for at least a week between between March 28 and May 16 (among other stipulations) but return to work full time before May 29 could receive up to $1,600 to help with the transition. If a person returns to work full time between May 30 and June 26, they can get $1,200.
There will be two payments, one after a full month of employment and the other after two months of employment. If a person loses their job during the eight-week period, they forfeit the rest of the payment.
Colorado will spend $500,000 in the first month, and will move the funding from the Coronavirus Relief Fund within the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. It isn’t clear where the rest of the money will come from, but the funds will be available until Sept. 4.
Colorado’s unemployment rate in March was 6.4%, or more than 200,000 people, according to federal data. (April numbers aren’t out yet.) But job boards show more than 282,000 active openings, suggesting that there are thousands who have chosen not to enter or return to the workforce. The state hopes this incentive program will bring people back into workplaces for the long term.
“Powering the comeback means supporting Coloradans getting back to work and our businesses as they expand,” Polis said in a news release. “We know that getting back to work doesn’t mean all the financial challenges Coloradans are facing just disappear, and we want to ensure that as more people are returning to the workforce, we are setting them up for success.”
Republicans were in talks with Democrats to try to get a bill passed for a similar incentive program, GOP Sen. Rob Woodward of Loveland said, but Polis’ order lets the state move faster and negates the need for legislation.
“We seem to be rewarding people for staying at home than going back to work,” said Woodward, who is himself a business owner struggling to attract workers.
To become eligible, you must be a Colorado resident who received at least one week of unemployment insurance of at least $25 between March 28 and May 16, who has verified their identity through CDLE’s program, and has certified they’ve returned to work and aren’t receiving unemployment benefits.