Jobless payments might set record

Tulsa_Officials with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission say unemployment payments to out-of-work Oklahomans are likely to set a record this week.

Unemployment insurance division director Jerry Pectol says $7.6 million has already been paid and he expects the amount to go over $8 million this week.

The commission has already added new phone lines and hired 13 temporary workers to handle an increase in calls.

Pectol says some callers have had waits of up to two hours on hold.

The maximum benefit for unemployment claims filed after January 1 is $409 and Congress has increased the eligibility for payments from 26 to 39 weeks.

The unemployment insurance program is administered by the state but is funded entirely by the federal government and by premiums paid by employers.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.