Oklahomans asked to share COVID-19 employment experience

August 11, 2020 | Headlines

OKLAHOMA CITY — State Rep. Forrest Bennett, D-OKC, is slated to begin an interim study on how COVID-19 has affected employment and wages in Oklahoma.

The South OKC representative hopes to focus the study on what went wrong for Oklahoma workers during this crisis, and where we can make improvements going forward. 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,” Bennett said. 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.”

Forrest Bennett

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.

“Please send me an email with your story. 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.”

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

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