The State’s unemployment chief abruptly resigns amid problems getting unemployment benefits to Oklahomans

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Robin Roberson

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Robin Roberson has resigned from her position as the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s Executive Director.

Roberson submitted her resignation on Friday.

Roberson confirmed to KFOR that she resigned on Friday.

Employment Security Commission employees received an email on Friday informing them that Roberson had resigned.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement:

“I want to thank Robin Roberson for her service during these unprecedented times. Oklahomans have the expectation that state services will be available when they need them the most, and I know there are still many Oklahomans waiting for unemployment benefits. I have confidence that the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission will identify the right leader to quickly get to the bottom of the issues exposed by this pandemic, to continue to modernize its antiquated systems as we move forward, and to deliver the services Oklahomans deserve.”

Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma Governor

OESC Board Chairman David Reid released the following statement about Roberson’s resignation:

“On behalf of the commissioners of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, I would like to thank Robin Roberson for her service to the commission over the past few months. Robin has been a leader in commerce, community and now state government. Her insights and business acumen have been a positive addition to the commission. We wish her well and look forward to all the great things she will accomplish in the future!

Thank you again, Robin, for your service to our state.”

David Reid, OESC Board Chairman

Roberson became Executive Director of the OESC in January.

Stitt posted the following statement on Facebook, praising her hiring:

“Robin Roberson first joined us as a volunteer board member for my administration’s Venture Capital Advisory Board. She is a successful Oklahoma businesswoman who recently sold her company and decided to make her service to the state more permanent. We are honored to now have her serving in a full-time position as the executive director of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Robin, thank you for stepping up to serve Oklahoma and for your dedication to make Oklahoma a Top Ten state.”

Kevin Stitt, Oklahoma Governor

Roberson, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy in late-April. She was back to work three days after the procedure.

There has been a great deal of turmoil in Oklahoma over the high level of unemployment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Scores of Oklahomans have complained about not receiving unemployment benefits.

The official State of Oklahoma website reports that in April, unemployment soared to 13.7 percent while nonfarm payroll employment plunged by 130,800 jobs.

In March, prior to the pandemic causing sweeping business closures, the unemployment rate was below 3 percent.

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Source: State of Oklahoma website

Dozens of self-employed Oklahomans gathered on the steps of the State Capitol on Monday to protest the state’s handling of unemployment claims.

“All we are asking for is the little bit of money they are offering us that would have helped take the pressure off,” Salon Owner Charity Snapp told KFOR. “None of us are getting that.”

In reaction to the protest, Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe sent KFOR the following statement:

“The state has paid out over $736 million in benefits since March 15, and was one of the first states in the nation to process and pay out PUA.  OESC is quickly moving to update manual processes to expedite claims using technology solutions. Even with these rapid solution deployments, there are still ongoing issues with information that is entered by claimants that delays claims processing and must be reviewed by OESC before funds can be released.  Regarding today’s event, everyone has the right to peacefully protest at the State Capitol and I support that privilege wholeheartedly.”

David Ostrowe, Secretary of Digital Transformation

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