Colorado qualifies for extended unemployment benefits

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The state Department of Labor and Employment said Coloradoans receiving unemployment benefits now qualify for up to 13 additional weeks of payments.

The news comes after Colorado narrowly missed the extension criteria during the last review a few weeks ago.

To qualify for an extension, states must reach a total three-month average unemployment rate greater than 6 percent. Colorado qualified based on a jump in unemployment filings from 5.8 percent in December 2008 to 6.6 percent in January and 7.2 percent in February. In El Paso County the current unemployment rate stands at 8.1 percent.

Business owners will not be charged for the extended benefits because the program is federally funded.