Oklahoma making strides in unemployment claims

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The COVID-19 Pandemic is wiping out decades worth of job gains.

More than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last four weeks. Nearly 200,000 of those people are Oklahomans.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission said on Monday, April 13 they took over 120,000 calls.

Despite the high volume at the beginning of this week, the state says help is on the way.

“People are working around the clock,” said Steve Harp, the Director of the Office of Management and Enterprise.

Nearly 1,000 people from different state agencies are working together to make things easier for the hundreds of thousands of people now without jobs.

“We’ve rebuilt the new website. We were receiving errors when people were on the website, you know, they were trying to file a claim and it would blow up with some weird error,” said Harp.

The Office of Management and Enterprise has been working with the OESC for three weeks now.

At the beginning of the pandemic, just 26 people worked to answer the phones.

“The first battle ground was just answering the phone. We were getting killed; people were experiencing four hour waits,” said Harp.

Now, more than 500 people are manning the phones and the wait times are now at just around 20 seconds.

“You’ll instantly get someone if you call, or you can go to the website and get someone instantly in web chat,” said Harp.

Harp says the upgrade in response times is crucial to getting money into the bank accounts of Oklahomans much more quickly.

“We’re motivated and we’re not gonna stop until we get this stuff resolved,” said Harp.

The OESC says the best way to file for unemployment is still online. You can find their website here: https://oesc.ok.gov/.

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