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Unemployment Claims in Oklahoma Hit Record High for 3rd Straight Week

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Oklahoma continues to set records for new jobless claims, with more than 51,000 people filing for unemployment last week.

That’s up almost 3,400 from the previous record, set the week before.

"Four weeks ago, our staff was processing our traditional on average 1,500 to 2,000 unemployment claims per week," said Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Robin Roberson. "So, obviously, we have experienced an influx each day, and that has put a lot of stress on our team and also all of our technology."

Around 120,000 Oklahomans have now lost their jobs in the economic upheaval from COVID-19.

Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Sean Kouplen said federal funds to give people receiving unemployment benefits an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits are now available.

"Those have started coming in about two days ago. We’ve disbursed a little over $44,000 in these weekly funds already," Kouplen said.

The federal government has still not issued guidelines for independent contractors and gig workers to file for unemployment.

State officials say the fastest way to file for unemployment is through the OESC website.

OESC is holding a virtual town hall Friday at 1 p.m. to answer questions about unemployment. Around 30,000 claimants are being contacted by OESC directly. Others can sign up for the event through EventBrite or participate by visiting an online hosting forum at the time of the event.

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