OESC (copy)

OESC executive director Shelley Zumwalt talks with claimants at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission's expo for jobless claims at the Tulsa Fairgrounds in Tulsa on July 16. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file

State first-time jobless claims declined by 23% last week compared to the prior week, according to a government report.

The U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday that 9,879 jobless filed advance claims during the week ending July 18 compared to 7,614 claims filed during the following week ending Saturday.

In addition to releasing claims totals for last week, the Labor Department revised upward initial claims totals for the week ending July 18 from 8,579 to 9,879.

The number of continued claims — the number of people receiving unemployment benefits — also declined from 127,134 to 118,809 the following week.

Those filing claims last week also were the last to potentially qualify for the extra $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation authorized by Congress early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program expired Saturday in Oklahoma. Congress has yet to agree on a bill to extend the federal benefit.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, the state agency that runs the unemployment insurance compensation system, also reported processing 2,039 initial claims for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for self-employed workers. It marked the second consecutive week that the state had reported about 2,000 PUA initial filings.

The OESC has been hosting mass, in-person claims processing events in Oklahoma City and Tulsa and most recently in Ardmore.

The agency said in a statement that the events helped nearly 10,000 claimants get their benefits.

“While these claims events have taken place, we’ve lowered our call volume, hired and are training new staff, which will double the number of staff in the OESC Oklahoma City and Tulsa call centers, and continued processing claims at a high level,” said OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt, in a statement.

The agency also announced this week that economic conditions were such that regular state jobless benefits would be extended an additional 13 weeks beyond the regular 26-week period once other state and federal eligibility were exhausted.

Nationwide, seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims increased by 12,000, from 1,422,000 the week ending July 18 to 1,434,000 the week ending Saturday.

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Curtis Killman 918-581-8471



Twitter: @loucardfan61

Staff Writer

Curtis is a member of the Projects Team with an emphasis on database analysis. He also covers federal court news, maintains the Tulsa World database page and develops online interactive graphics. Phone: 918-581-8471