17 Oct 2019

Number of people on jobseeker benefit climbs 10 percent

2:00 pm on 17 October 2019

The number of people on the jobseeker support benefit has jumped by 10 percent in the three months to September, compared to the same quarter last year.

Work and Income offices

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

The latest figures from the Ministry of Social Development show there are now almost 143,000 people getting the jobseeker benefit, up from just under 130,000.

The ministry said the proportion of working age people receiving jobseeker support has been increasing since the September 2017 quarter.

Northland has the highest proportion of the working age population receiving jobseeker support, at 9.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of hardship assistance grants handed out has skyrocketed to more than 570,000, at a cost of $167 million.

That's up from almost 345,000 grants in the September 2018 quarter, with a price tag of $100 million.

Increasing demand for food grants was behind much of that rise, the ministry said.

Compared with the September 2018 quarter, there were 131,00 more grants for food made, bringing the total to more than 273,000.

As a result, the ministry spent $26.5 million on food grants in the three months to September.