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OESC offers unemployment aid to communities hit by storms

Posted at 3:45 PM, Jun 17, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission is offering disaster unemployment assistance to Oklahomans devastated by recent bouts of severe weather.

The storms in April and May left many towns in ruins. Some residents were left with not only damage to their homes but also without jobs after their places of business were destroyed or closed temporarily.

“There is an unemployment and re-employment element to disaster relief, and it can be flooding, it can be straight-line winds, it can be tornadoes,” Trae Rahill, CEO of OESC, said.

In fact, 18 counties currently qualify for disaster unemployment assistance, and that number could increase.

“The paycheck is at risk or their ability to serve communities is at risk,” Rahill said. “It is very disruptive."

In trying times, the OESC is reaching out to hard-hit communities, offering resources to those who have lost their livelihoods.
“Disaster unemployment assistance is something that FEMA funds, but our agency administers, so when people find themselves in these situations where maybe the business is not going to reopen, we can usually take care of people in that interim place while we try to find them new employment,” Rahill said.

Oklahomans have until July 1 to submit a claim for disaster unemployment assistance; however, help is always available for those seeking work through the state's 27 Oklahoma Works American job centers across Green Country.

“Tulsa, Sapulpa, Bartlesville, Pryor, and Muskogee all have brick-and-mortar offices, and then there are other outreach locations in the smaller towns kind of nearby,” Rahill said.

The OESC is currently in the process of getting mobile units through a federal grant so they can respond to disaster situations, making accessibility easier.
In the meantime, the employment rate for those seeking jobs is 3.5%, meaning there are more jobs than people looking for work. As the summer months approach, that means more job opportunities.

“There’s places now that are busier now that people have time on their hands and they have better weather,” Rahill said.

Those with OESC said look for more employment options offered through theme parks, accommodation, tourism, gaming, museums, and even historical sites.

For employers in need of help, OESC is available.

“We have focused a lot of our attention in the last six months on serving employers as a really important stakeholder group to the agency,” Rahill said.

On June 20, OESC will host a seminar in Pryor at the MidAmerica Industrial Park to offer education to employers on how to utilize the commission and the American job centers services.

This, in turn, will give area employers the tools they need to navigate the re-employment and unemployment process, and things like tax incentives and tax rate impacts, to name a few.

The OESC will continue to host seminars for employers, hoping to expand those across the state.

Employers can sign up here.

For those seeking disaster unemployment assistance, click here.


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