Nearly 39 million have sought US jobless aid since virus hit

A woman looks at signs at a store closed due to COVID-19 in Niles, Ill., Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

Regular unemployment claims declined for a fifth straight week last week but Colorado is paying record jobless benefits as the result of economic restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state labor department said Thursday.

Last week, 17,825 people applied for regular unemployment benefits in Colorado, down from 22,483 the week before. In addition, 7,633 self-employed and gig workers filed claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Last week, the state paid out $88.8 million in regular unemployment benefits. During the height of the Great Recession, the state paid out an average of $19 million in unemployment benefits each week. The state paid $315 million in regular unemployment benefits in April, breaking the previous record total of $102.8 million set in May 2009.

The top five industries with workers getting unemployment assistance are accommodation and food services, retail, healthcare and social services and administrative, waste management and remediation services, which includes telemarketing centers, janitorial and landscaping services.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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