Hundreds file for unemployment in Ouray County

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Hundreds of Ouray County residents have filed for unemployment benefits in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, as the economy has all but shut down.

A total of 339 people in the county filed for jobless aid between mid-March and mid-April, according to figures from the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. There were roughly 2,200 workers in Ouray County as of March.

Just seven people had filed claims for the week ending March 14. Then the numbers climbed rapidly, to 24 by March 21 and 123 by March 28. Claims have since dropped, to 105 by April 4 and 80 by April 11, the most recent date for which local data was available. That drop mirrors statewide numbers, but state economists say the decrease is likely due to a backlog of claims the state is working through rather than a downward trend.

By comparison, an average of only three people filed for unemployment benefits in Ouray County each week in 2019.

A total of 75 people in San Juan County, nearly 1,100 people in San Miguel County, nearly 1,300 people in Gunnison County and nearly 1,600 people in Montrose County have sought jobless aid.

Between mid-March and mid-April, nearly 280,000 unemployment claims were filed in Colorado and roughly 26 million in the country. Economists have forecast that the national unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20 percent.