Unemployment claims for last week dwarf previous record-setting week during pandemic

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Oklahomans struggle to file for unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma and the nation experienced unparalleled unemployment filing last week as COVID-19 related closures put more people out of work.

For the week ending March 28, unadjusted initial claims in Oklahoma totaled 44,970- a 23,044 increase from the previous record-setting high of 21,926 just the week before.

Nationally, the seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 6,648,000- an increase of 3,341,000 from the previous week.

This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series.

“To call this unprecedented doesn’t begin to explain the enormity of the impact COVID-19 related job losses are having on our state and our economy,” said OESC Executive Director Robin Roberson. “We know people are anxious. We know people want to work. We know assistance is needed and we appreciate Oklahomans working with us to process this tsunami-like wave of claims quickly and efficiently.”

Out-of-work Oklahomans are encouraged to first file initial claims online. The OESC phone systems are overloaded and, despite assistance from other agencies in expanding the capability of its call center, individuals are finding themselves on hold for hours, disconnected, or unable to get through at all.

“We’re probably at least two weeks away from receiving federal funding approved by Congress and President Trump last Friday for nontraditional workers seeking relief through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance provision of the CARES Act,” Roberson said. “We look forward, in a short amount of time, to being able to assist most Oklahomans who are out of work through no fault of their own.”

The one-week waiting period to file for unemployment has been waived for first-time claimants. The state is also waiving the Benefit Wage Charge for employers with allowed claims directly related to COVID-19 closure or workforce reduction.

“The new federal law expands the number of weeks of unemployment available to individuals impacted by COVID-19 related eligibility standards,” Roberson said. “It also increases the amount of funds an individual may receive weekly over the state’s established maximum payment for unemployment insurance.”

Look for jobs at www.okjobmatch.com.

Unemployment Claims may be securely filed online at www.unemployment.ok.gov.

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