First-time jobless claims increased nearly 15% last week in Oklahoma, hitting totals not seen since late June, according to a government report.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 11,894 Oklahomans filed initial claims for unemployment compensation during the week ending Saturday, 1,537 more than filed the week before, according to revised, unadjusted figures.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission has not seen that many initial claims filed in one week since 18,405 did for the week ending June 27.
Continued claims, meanwhile, declined from a revised figure of 32,368 the week ending March 20 to 28,308 the following week. Continued claims are those filed after one week of unemployment.
The four-week moving average of continued claims marked its 41st consecutive week of declining numbers with an average of 31,683 people filing claims the week ending March 27, compared to 33,240 the prior week.
OESC Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt acknowledged the increase in first-time claims in a written statement.
“This past week, we saw an increase in initial claims and the initial claims four-week moving average,” Zumwalt said. “To address this, OESC is taking proactive measures and placing priority on helping Oklahomans get back to work.
“In addition to the ongoing employment programs we provide, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting large career fairs in various locations across Oklahoma in May. We will provide more details as plans are finalized.”
Both initial and continued claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance also increased last week.
Initial PUA claims increased by 60 to 777 the week ending Saturday, while continued PUA claims the week ending March 20 increased by 2,187 to 23,093.
PUA is a temporary federal program for self-employed and contract workers.
The number of Oklahoma workers filing initial claims for expanded benefits under the temporary Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program declined by 3,419 to 46,572, while continued claims remained steady.
The OESC said it continues to reduce its backlog of cases needing adjudication. Currently, 2,200 cases are in adjudication, 90% fewer than were in December, according to the OESC.
Nationally, initial claims increased by 16,000 to 744,000, according to seasonally adjusted figures.
The four-week moving average national of initial claims also increased by 2,500 to 723,750.
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