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Denver Chamber president says $1,600 employment incentive is the right approach to labor shortage

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Posted at 7:14 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-22 00:13:06-04

DENVER — The Colorado Jumpstart Program seeks to incentivise unemployed workers back through the doors of businesses with a $1,600 bonus check for anyone on the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) unemployment list who is hired in May and $1,200 if they are hired in June.

The plan comes as many small businesses and restaurants are struggling to hire new workers as their businesses open up after the pandemic.

"I do think Jumpstart is a good way to really tell everybody, 'We're ready to be back to work, and we want to make it as easy as possible for you,'" said Kelly Brough, the president of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. "There is an urgency to making sure people can come back sooner rather than later, and I think that that's what Jumpstart is helping to address."

Colorado is taking a markedly different approach to weaning unemployed workers off of the federal unemployment benefits brought about because of the pandemic. Twenty-two states have established plans to remove the $300 benefit over the next month. The Colorado approach will pay people to enter the workforce.

"I think instead of using sticks and trying to use carrots, we really do think this kind of program is the way to go," Brough said. "I think the more we can focus on how we come back together even stronger and recognizing the challenges both are facing, I think the more success we're going to have."

The program is expected to cost anywhere between $36 to $57 million depending on program participation. The state expects to pay for the program mostly with federal COVID-19 stimulus money and FEMA reimbursements.