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Report: Unemployment up in CO, Families Working "Without a Net"

December 22, 2008

Denver - The latest unemployment figures for Colorado show a 1.8-percent increase over last year, and a new report from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy says there's little support for those unemployed workers.

The group's spokesperson, Scott Downes, says it's not just those losing their jobs who could use some help. He says even working families could benefit from policies to counter the effect of hard times, such as restoring the state-earned income tax credit, and providing easier access to food stamps and children's health insurance.

"Helping directly infuse the amount of money that families can earn and keep, decreasing day-to-day expenses and building and strengthening the safety net."

Downes says a sudden emergency or job loss can drive a family into poverty, sometimes overnight. For many Colorado households, he adds, there's often nothing waiting to catch them.

"There's no safety net there to bolster them up and get them back on track. That's a concerning problem, and it's a state level problem that can be fixed."

Downes is optimistic help is on the way for Colorado families.

"We have no other choice. If state leaders don't take action on some or all of these policies, it will spell very real trouble for a lot of Coloradans."

Critics say the proposed improvements would require increased government spending at a time when budgets are tight, and families can't afford new taxes. Downes counters that history has shown targeting public money where it's needed most can help turn a crisis around.

The report is at cclponline.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO