News 9 Takes Behind The Scenes Look At OESC Handling Unemployment Claims

Wednesday, July 1st 2020, 4:59 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

For more than a week, hundreds have waited in long lines to get one-on-one help with unemployment claims. Oklahoma's jobless rate is approaching 13%.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission moved into a conference center to make room for all those in need.

Oklahomans started lining up early in the morning.

"We have masks and gloves for everyone, and you are going to take my temperature," said Shelly Zumwalt, the OESC interim director.

They are helping around 500 people a day. They want to work towards keeping exposure risks down.

"We have these forms the people fill out. Basically, we ask them what type of claim they have, what the issue is," Zumwalt said.

The process involves a lot of waiting.

"Everyone here today will be served today. Depending on the issue, we are dividing people up," said Zumwalt.

Zumwalt said people come in with all different claims, some with unemployment fraud, back claims and many have never filed before.

"The number of people that never have entered or seen the website," said Zumwalt.

This number of people is taking OESC by surprise.

"These are the people waiting for claims. We have people in this room we have people, and then we have a whole other room over there to the back we have a resource area," Zumwalt said.

People will wait for hours until they get their name called or they are moved through the line.

In February 2019, OESC gave out $23 million's worth of claims. In just one week of June, they gave out $232 million.

"We have 60 people total," said Zumwalt. 

On Wednesday, people were traveling down from Tulsa to help support the Oklahoma City team.

"We will continue to innovate and pivot and do everything we can," Zumwalt said.