Wairarapa joblessness fears realised in benefit numbers

7:24 pm on 30 November 2020

Recent government statistics bore out fears over Wairarapa's economy expressed in a recent district council survey.

Work and Income offices

Work and Income offices Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

People in Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa said their biggest worries were a Covid-19 resurgence and the long-term economic impacts of this year's lockdown.

The predictable results were in a report to the Wairarapa Joint Recovery Committee, for its cancelled meeting today.

A total of 249 Wairarapa folk responded to the questionnaire, which closed on 2 November.

Almost a quarter [24 percent] said their biggest fear was a return of widespread community transmission of the coronavirus.

Another 22 percent said worries over jobs was their primary concern.

The latest data from the Ministry of Social Development [MSD] shows the fears over long term employment may be realised.

Carterton, Masterton, and South Wairarapa had an increase in Job Seeker Allowance numbers in the six months to September.

In South Wairarapa, 79 more people signed on, a 35.1 percent increase.

Carterton had an additional 59 people on the benefit, a 30.3 percent in its numbers.

In Masterton, another 181 more people, a 20.9 percent rise.

Last week, Masterton man Reagan Gundersen described the impact of long-term unemployment on mental health.

Speaking at the launch of the Youth 2 Work movement in Carterton, Gundersen said he suffered from feelings of "depression and worthlessness day after day".

"And it wasn't because I wasn't trying, because I was actively trying to seek employment.

"But the jobs aren't there, especially in small rural towns."

The committee cancelled its meeting in Martinborough yesterday.

It meets again on 22 February.

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