First-time jobless claims fall, remain high as Oklahomans file for PUA, PEUC relief

OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of jobless claims filed with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) for the week ending May 16 were down from the previous week and remain high compared to the pre-COVID-19 and oil industry crises.
For the week ending May 16, unadjusted initial claims in Oklahoma totaled 23,880, a decrease of 15,199 from the previous adjusted week of 39,079, revised up 6,285 from the initially reported total of 32,794.
Nationally, the seasonally adjusted initial claims totaled 2,438,000 a decrease of 249,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 2,687,000. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate for the country was 17.2 percent for the week ending May 16, up 1.7 percent.
“It’s good to see the numbers declining even though initial claims for unemployment remain at historic levels,” Secretary for Digital Transformation David Ostrowe said. “Some of last week’s initial claims can be attributed to individuals who don’t qualify for regular unemployment and to claimants filing for extended unemployment benefits known as PUA and PEUC relief.”
To file for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment (PEUC) Compensation, an individual must first be denied regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.
PUA is designed for gig workers, independent contractors, and other self-employed individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment relief.
PEUC is 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits for individuals who have exhausted the traditional UI assistance of 26 weeks. These programs run through the week ending Dec. 26 and are backdated to March 29.