OKC VeloCity | Employers seek to fill positions as COVID-19 shifts activity, OESC unemployment claims expedited

Employers seek to fill positions as COVID-19 shifts activity, OESC unemployment claims expedited

By Molly Fleming / Economy / March 23, 2020

Many companies in Oklahoma are hiring people now or will hire more people soon to help keep up with customer demand.

Oklahoma Works, run by the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, is trying to keep up with all the job-hiring announcements, posting them on their website and social media channels as soon as they’re made public.

Greater Oklahoma City Chamber Executive Vice President Jeff Seymour said his economic development team has heard from grocery operators, healthcare stores and other manufacturers about their needs in employment.

As online restaurant orders surge, Moore-based SYNQ 3 is also hiring to help with the uptick in restaurant calls. There are more than 2,000 full-time positions in Oklahoma City listed on okjobmatch.com.

To keep up with grocery-store demand, Associated Wholesale Grocers is hiring between 60 and 80 people, including drivers.

At the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development, Business Services and Rapid Response Coordinator Bill Hancock said he’s seen Oklahoma companies come up with creative ways to solve the state’s problems. He encouraged employees seeking a temporary positions to check out the availability at grocery stores and distribution centers.

There will soon be positions open at CVS. The company announced a need for 50,000 people nationwide, so some of those jobs are expected to be in Oklahoma.

But Hancock said some of the temporary positions could lead to a regular position with a company, so working now for a company mind be a good foot-in-the-door opportunity. He said businesses looking for fill several open positions can e-mail him at Bill.Hancock@okcommerce.gov.

People who find themselves unemployed can file for unemployment through the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. Executive Director Robin Roberson said residents should fill out their b application online at www.ok.gov/oesc/ because the phone queue customers are experiencing lengthy delays. Disaster unemployment assistance is not available at this time.

“We are here to help with any questions and encourage Spanish and Vietnamese or those needing translation services to call,” she said. “Last week, Governor Stitt waived the one-week waiting period in order to expedite claimant payment as quickly as possible and I have waived the work search requirements with the hopes it keeps Oklahomans from physically applying in-person during this time.”

The state’s unemployment trust fund is one of the most solvent in the nation, with more than a billion dollars saved for an emergency such as this, said Roberson.

During the Great Recession – the plan’s worse year – more than $508 million was paid out. The current balance could cover two years of claims that high, which is without additional employer taxes or substantial interest earnings.

Employees who worked at employers that are temporarily closed, such as bars or restaurants, can still seek unemployment. Visit the website, https://unemployment.state.ok.us/ to get more information about the process. If employees file for unemployment, they’ll need to provide a return-to-work date.

Businesses that employ 25 people or more and are temporarily closing can file a mass claim. A mass claim is a claim initiated by the employer when a temporary shutdown occurs. In order to file the mass claim the employer must have at least 25 employees and must complete an excel file with specific information on each employee. The file will establish claims and employees will need to file weekly certifications for payment until they return to work. Inquiries on mass claims may be sent to MASSClaims@oesc.state.ok.us. Mass claims need a few days to process to ensure that the file is correct. If an owner has closed its operation and are unable to correspond with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), employees should file their own claims at https://unemployment.state.ok.us/.

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