OESC: Initial unemployment claims on the decline in Oklahoma

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Unemployment Security Commission officials say they are seeing a “significant decline” in initial unemployment claims filed.

Initial claims filed for the week of Aug. 1 are down 36 percent from the previous week, according to a news release issued by OESC.

The less volatile initial claims four-week moving average continues to decline for a sixth consecutive week, down 88 percent from June’s average of 70,323.

“I’m pleased to see these continued decreases in our state unemployment numbers,” said OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt. “While this is likely due to several factors, I’m proud of our efforts in July at the in-person claim events to successfully help more than 10,000 Oklahomans get the help they needed. While we celebrate this success, we’re continuing to work to provide new solutions to further relieve the strain on unemployed Oklahomans.”

OESC is also seeing call center progress, according to the news release.

“As a result of efficiencies implemented over the past month, as well as from the success in helping thousands through in-person events, OESC has continued to see an increase in first-call resolution with 43% of callers getting their issues resolved through just one call,” the news release states.

More than 50 people who are being trained to assist with call processing needs are currently halfway through their training, according to the news release. They will start assisting with claims processing in mid-August and fully start in September. Those agents will represent a 100 percent increase in available claims agents.

“Early in my tenure at OESC we made some difficult decisions to ensure that our processes would become increasingly efficient in getting Oklahomans their unemployment benefits,” Zumwalt said. “From combining tier 1 and tier 2 processes at our call center to investing in additional agents, these changes have meant more Oklahomans are getting direct assistance to help them pay their bills and feed their families.”

OESC held claims processing events in multiple Oklahoma cities, including Midwest City, Tulsa and Ardmore, throughout July, processing claims for hundreds of Oklahomans during each event.

Line for unemployment help
Oklahomans wait in line to receive help at OESC event in Midwest City on July 1, 2020.

OESC released the following unemployment claim statistics:

• The advance number of initial claims for the week ending Aug. 1, unadjusted, totaled 5,720, a decrease of 3,207 from the previous week’s revised level of 8,927.

• Initial claims’ four-week moving average was 8,552, a decrease of 926 from the previous week’s revised average of 9,477.

• The advance unadjusted number of continued claims totaled 114,130, a decrease of 13,487 from the previous week’s revised level of 127,617.

• Continued claims’ four-week moving average was 125,203, a decrease of 4,226 from the previous week’s revised average of 129,429.

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