The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, in a series of social media posts, said the accounts of “less than 20%” of the unemployment benefit cardholders were frozen due to “probably fraudulent activity.”
The state will offer a $1,200 incentive for those who obtain and keep a job, but is ending additional federal unemployment benefits.
After experiencing a mini-peak in April, initial jobless claims for regular unemployment benefits in the state declined for the second consecutive week, but were still nearly six times pre-pandemic levels.
The tight employee market was in full display at the first of a two-day job fair at Expo Square in Tulsa.
For the week ending May 1, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 11,356, a decrease of 6,013 from the previous week's revised level of 17,369, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission reported that nearly 18,000 Oklahoma workers filed initial claims for unemployment benefits during the week ending Saturday. During the prior week, 13,852 sought benefits for the first time.
State officials announced Tuesday that seven in-person job fairs and one virtual job fair will be offered across the state in May with the first one beginning in Tulsa.
"Our dedicated team members continue to come up with innovative solutions to overcome the challenges," said OESC Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported Thursday that 4,768 Oklahoma workers filed first-time claims for unemployment the week ending Saturday.
The Labor Department reported that 28,178 Oklahoma workers filed for continued unemployment benefits the week ending Feb. 6 — nearly 9,500 fewer than received jobless benefits the prior week.
Oklahoma's unemployment insurance fund has shrunk from more than $1 billion to less than $100 million during pandemic, but Oklahoma Employment Security Commission leader is optimistic it will hold up.
The number of initial claims filed the week ending Jan. 23 is 556 fewer than filed the prior week.
Continued claims, meanwhile, declined nearly 17% the week ending Jan. 9 when a revised 41,475 claims were filed, compared to 34,591 claims the following week.
Nationally, the number of people seeking unemployment rises to the highest number (965,000) since late August.
Last week was the 28th consecutive week that the four-week moving average of continued claims declined, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.
“I have literally lost hope,” Amanda Flores says. “I really don’t know what to do, and they’ve made it very clear that there’s nothing I can do. And we are talking about something I applied for in July.”
Despite the improvement, there were 69% more claims filed compared to one year ago.
First-time unemployment claims in Oklahoma declined once again last week continuing a steady reduction this month. following a mini-spike in filings the week before.
The state's weekly unemployment report shows a decline in both initial and continued claims.
Officials did not provide a date as to when the payments would be sent out, if at all.
The funding comes from a balance of lost-wage assistance program funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Naturally, that led to much disinformation online regarding the "end” of unemployment insurance for Oklahomans. To be clear, traditional Unemployment Insurance is not ending, only the State Extended Benefits are ceasing.
OESC Director Shelley Zumwalt announced in a Twitter video Friday she had just received information from the Department of Labor that the program no longer meets the requirements to stay in effect.