Oklahoma Unemployment Claims Hit Record High Amid COVID-19
It was a historic week in the state of Oklahoma last week. According to the Employment Security Commission, unemployment claims in the state have hit an all-time high.
Exact numbers were not released by the Employment Security Commission Monday, per the Department of Labor however a request was submitted to have the numbers released by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC).
The record amount of unemployment claims filed in one week is 9,000.
It's been a nerve wracking few days for Taylor Williams. Last week she, and several other Sheridan downtown employees learned they were being furloughed.
“It's scary because I’ve got a toddler and I’m not real sure where the groceries are going to come from,” said Williams.
Williams went online to file unemployment and completed that. Getting a call into the office has been tricky.
“The volumes are super high right now because everyone is worried and everyone is filing for unemployment but like we still need answers,” said Williams. “We still need to be able to file claims or our benefits are denied. That's even scarier. What if I can't get through? My benefits are going to get denied because I can't get through.”
“Unfortunately we are seeing two worlds collide,” said Robin Robertson, Executive Director of the Employment Security Commission. “The energy crisis and the coronavirus.”
Because of that, the OESC have been bombarded with calls which is leading to very long wait times.
“We’re working on new ways to incorporate technology very quickly, (we are) doing something the state has not incorporated before,” said Robertson. “We are there for everyone in their time of need and we are working on it.”
As claims continue to be processed, officials ask for time as the state enters uncharted territory.
“I would just ask for everyone's patience,” said Robertson. “This is something unprecedented, we have shifted all of our field resources to the phone que. That took us a couple of days to prepare structurally.”
“I’m doing the best I can to have patience, but patience isn't going to feed my toddler when we don't have any food. Patience isn't going to keep my lights on,” said Williams.
Williams said she’s began to apply for jobs at places such as Crest and CVS.