Oklahoma Lawmaker to Study COVID-19 Impact on Employment, Wages

August 12, 2020

A state lawmaker in Oklahoma is launching an interim study on how COVID-19 has affected employment and wages in that state.

State Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC, said in a media release that he hopes to focus the study on what went wrong for Oklahoma workers during this crisis and where can make improvements can be made going forward.

Bennett recognized COVID brought to light issues relating to FMLA, lost wages, health insurance access, and more. “COVID has touched every aspect of life for all of us,” he said in a prepared statement.

He acknowledged that the economic fallout from this pandemic will affect us all for some time to come, but that “there is no doubt that for Oklahoma’s low and middle-income workers, those who survived paycheck to paycheck prior to this pandemic and face even greater challenges now, the situation is considerably more difficult.”

The goal of the study is to develop and implement policies to permanently address these issues. To do this, Bennett is hoping to get a good mix of subject matter experts and real-world experiences from Oklahomans.

From the experts, Bennett hopes to paint a picture of how well Oklahoma workers were positioned, relative to other states, for an economic crisis like COVID.

“This is a unique challenge with a unique opportunity,” Bennett said, “because we have the ability to hear real-time dispatches from workers from across the state. We owe it to the people of Oklahoma to seek out their stories, and not simply rely on the data points that legislators typically review before making policy decisions.

Bennett is requesting Oklahoma citizens email him with stories about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In order to fix this problem, we need to hear from people it has affected. We are scheduled to present this study to the Government Efficiency Committee on the morning of Sept. 17. Legislators are shown graphs and stats related to this crisis nearly every day, and I think it is important that we are reminded of the people those data represent. With your help and your voices, that is what I intend to do with this study,” he said.

Oklahomans wanting to share their experience for this study are encouraged to call (405)557-7404 or email forrest.bennett@okhouse.gov.

Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives

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