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Colorado Asks Unemployed To Pay Back $128 Million In Jobless Benefits

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This file photo taken Aug. 31, 2011, shows crowds of job-seekers waiting to enter a job fair at Crenshaw Christian Center in South Los Angeles.
This file photo taken Aug. 31, 2011, shows crowds of job-seekers waiting to enter a job fair at Crenshaw Christian Center in South Los Angeles.

In one state, the jobless now have to pay the government.

Colorado accidentally overpaid $128 million in unemployment benefits last year, and now the state is billing the jobless to get that money back, the Denver Post and Associated Press reported.

States across the country accidentally overpaid $5.1 billion in unemployment benefits, largely because of clerical mistakes rather than fraud, according to government officials quoted in the Denver Post. It is unclear whether other states will also bill the jobless.

This is not the first time that Colorado has paid more in jobless benefits than it was supposed to. Last year, it recovered $73 million in unemployment benefits that it had accidentally overpaid, according to the AP.

"If we deliberately lie about our information, they are quick to prosecute, but if they make a mistake, we still have to pay for their mistake," Amelia Kelii of Colorado told the AP. She owes the state more than $1,000, which she says she cannot pay.

In May, Colorado was one of eight states to cut off jobless benefits for many of the long-term unemployed, as states around the country ended their extended benefits programs, according to the National Employment Law Project.

The long-term unemployed have a difficult time finding employment the longer they are out of work, as they lose connections, lose skills, and are perceived by employers to be less desirable.

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