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OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is putting the implementation of the new federal COVIC-19 relief bill as a top priority.

The new COVID-19 relief package, American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed by President Biden, extends federal unemployment benefits to Oklahomas through Sept. 6, 2021, according to information provided by the OESC.

The OESC instructs claimants to continue to file for unemployment benefits as usual.

Extending payments

The package extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and the $300 weekly benefit from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program.

“Thanks to the innovative and strategic solutions provided by our dedicated team at OESC, we expect to begin distributing payments from the new federal relief bill by the end of next week (Saturday, March 27),” said Shelley Zumwalt, OESC Executive Director.

Claims, unemployment rate dropping

The OESC reports that continued claims over a four-week moving average have declined for the 38th consecutive week.

The unemployment rate in Oklahoma dropped to 4.3% for January, which is 12th in the nation and below the national average of 6.3%, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

Weekly Numbers Ending March 13

  • For the week ending March 13, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 6,510, a decrease of 566 from the previous week’s revised level of 7,076.
  • Initial claims’ four-week moving average was 6,690, a decrease of 66 from the previous week’s revised average of 6,756.
  • The advance unadjusted number of continued claims totaled 27,669, a decrease of 6,864 from the previous week’s revised level of 34,533.
  • Continued claims’ four-week moving average was 33,179, a decrease of 1,598 from the previous week’s revised average of 34,777.

Nationally, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims during the same period was 770,000, an increase of 45,000 from the previous week’s revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor reports.

The four-week moving average was 746,250, a decrease of 16,000 from the previous week. For the week ending March 6, U.S. DOL reports the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.0%, an increase of 0.1% from the previous week’s unrevised rate.

The national weekly seasonally adjusted initial claims report is one of 10 components in the Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators. To smooth out the volatility in the weekly initial claims data, a four-week moving average is used to assess trends.

Updated Graphs for Week Ending Mar. 13

Claimant Resources

Individuals seeking unemployment benefits should go to https://ui.ok.gov and create an account with the Get Started button to connect their social security number and pull all unemployment information into one location.

Unemployment claimants should be aware that not returning to work when recalled or when work is available could potentially lead to disqualification from receiving unemployment benefits.

Employers may report this activity by emailing [email protected], calling 405-962-7524, or mailing OESC at P.O. Box 52006, Oklahoma City, OK, 73152-2006.

If a claimant returns to work full time, they should keep their unemployment claim open with OESC and not certify a weekly claim. If they return part time, a claimant may continue to certify their weekly claim and must report all gross earnings for the week to potentially receive a partial benefit. Eligibility for continued benefits is determined on the circumstances of each individual claimant.

OESC is an excellent resource for people looking to re-enter the job market by connecting Oklahomans with available employment through https://okjobmatch.com/.

If a PUA-eligible claimant reopens their business, they will still receive backdated unemployment benefits to when their COVID-19-related job loss or business closure occurred.

Last Updated March 18, 2021, 1:18 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor