Shelley Zumwalt

Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt is pictured in this screengrab from Facebook during a news conference on Thursday.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Initial unemployment claims for the state dropped nearly 60% last week, according to the latest figures by the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC).

For the week ending July 4, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 7,562, a decrease of 10,843 (58.9%) from the previous week’s revised level of 18,405.

For the same file week, the initial claims four-week moving average was 42,340, a dip of 17,491 (29.2%) from the previous week’s revised average of 59,831.

Continued claims also are on the decline.

For the file week ending July 4, the advance unadjusted number of continued claims fell 25.4%, going from the previous week’s revised level of 165,298 to 123,267.

For the same week, the four-week moving average dropped 4.9%, going from the 169,411 to 161,029.

Since March, the OESC has paid out more than $2.1 billion in unemployment benefits. Over the last week, OESC has served Oklahomans at the Reed Event Center in Midwest City. At in-person, socially distanced events on July 1-2 and Monday through Thursday, OESC helped more than 3,000 Oklahomans receive their unemployment benefits.

The OESC has added events in Midwest City on Monday and Tuesday, as well as events at Expo Square in Tulsa on July 15-16 to account for the high volume of claimants who require in-person help.

“We’ve made significant progress to help Oklahomans receive their unemployment benefits over the past several days at our events in Midwest City,” OESC Interim Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt said in a statement. “Our team has been working tirelessly and has ensured we meet our anticipated goal of serving 500 Oklahomans every single day we have had our in-person events over the past week.

“There is still significant work for us to do in order to help Oklahomans get the help they need, but these events have given us an opportunity to address the unusually high volume of claims safely and efficiently, with resources like translators for those who need them. We’re hoping to continue the success of the Midwest City events with our additional dates on Monday and Tuesday next week and our upcoming dates in Tulsa.”

Thursday afternoon, during a news conference with Gov. Kevin Stitt on COVID-19, Zumwalt said there were 129,000 backlogged claims when she came on as interim director in late May. That number has been reduced to 7,000 pending, she said.

Nationally, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims in the week ending July 4 was 1,314,000, a drop of 99,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 1,413,000. The four-week moving average was 1,437,250, a decrease of 63,000 from the previous week’s revised average of 1,500,250. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 12.4% for the week ending June 27, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point from the previous week’s revised rate of 12.9%.

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