OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As thousands of Oklahomans continue to work to file for unemployment insurance, an Oklahoma congresswoman says she has been hearing about the delays in the Sooner State.
“I have heard from so many Oklahomans across the spectrum; a lot of people who are self-employed, 1099 gig workers’ stories that are absolutely heartbreaking about people who have been out of work for a month or more and have still not been able to access their benefits,” Rep. Kendra Horn told KFOR.
For weeks, Oklahomans who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic or the drop in oil prices have had trouble filing for unemployment insurance.
While the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has increased its staff, officials say their systems have still been overwhelmed during certain parts of the process due to the sudden increase in filings.
“Some of the people that we’ve heard from that have reached out to share their stories include individuals like Chad, who was an oilfield worker, self-employed, lost his job and is still unable to get unemployment,” Horn said.
As agencies continue to work through unemployment issues, Horn says more needs to be done about the collapse of the oil industry.
“But on a broader scale, we know the damage that the oil and gas industry has taken. I’ve introduced legislation to spend $3 billion to top off our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We also need to be looking into dumping by Saudi Arabia because the oil and gas industry is being impacted by the lack of demand during this crisis but also the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. And we have to address this in a number of ways because making sure that America’s energy independence is maintained is critical for providing our essential services for our healthcare workers, for getting food and supplies to our stores and making sure that things continue to move. So we’ve got to tackle this in a number of ways,” Horn said.