After three weeks of declining new unemployment claims, Oklahoma set another new record during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There were 68.237 initial claims last week, almost 16,000 more than the week prior and about 6,500 more than the previous record, set the week ending April 4.
The record number of claims include gig workers who recently became eligible for benefits, but they don’t completely account for the spike.
State Secretary for Digital Transformation David Ostrowe says while almost $432 million in benefits has been paid out, there are about 65,ooo Oklahomans whose claims have not been paid that they’re trying to get in contact with.
"These claims have some type of problem — either they don’t qualify, the applicant filled out the information incorrectly — so, in addition to outbound calls, we are emailing these folks to try to get better information," Ostrowe said.
Fraudulent claims are also slowing down processing; the employment security commission is working with the state and federal bureaus of investigation on 6,700 known fraud cases.
"We’re looking at another large batch of suspicious transactions that we are also working with law enforcement to reduce, and we have frozen some of these claims that we deem as problematic," Ostrowe said.
Oklahomans who believe their information has been used to file a fraudulent claim should email the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.