Officials: $587 million paid in unemployment benefits to Oklahomans

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As businesses across the state reopen to the public, many employees are now heading back to work.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission says the number of jobless claims filed last week were about one-third of the record number of claims filed the previous week.

For the week ending on May 9, unadjusted initial claims totaled 32,794, which is down from the previous adjusted week’s total of 93,885.

“It’s too early to consider this week’s numbers a trend,” said Secretary for Digital Transformation David Ostrowe. “We’re hopeful the incredible numbers of job loss and business closures will begin reversing course now that Oklahoma is moving into Phase II of Governor Stitt’s reopening of the state. Our neighbors are ready to get back to work and jumpstart our economy.”

So far, officials say almost $587 million in total benefits have been paid to claimants during the COVID-19 crisis with more than 410,000 people filing for unemployment relief.

“The agency continues to resolve issues regarding claims with pending eligibility concerns,” Ostrowe said. “While a myriad of issues can cause a stop to occur on a claim, OESC is working as fast as humanly possible to identify and resolve each and every one.”

Officials say Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance is expected to roll out by the end of this week. It should provide an additional 13 weeks of benefits to people who exhausted regular unemployment insurance benefits.

So far, authorities have been able to identify more than 11,000 false unemployment claims.

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