15 Jul 2021

More details to consider behind big drop in jobseeker beneficiaries

9:49 pm on 15 July 2021

The government is counting another drop in unemployment numbers as a win - but others say the figures don't paint the whole picture.

Part time job. Road sign on the sky background. Raster illustration.

Photo: 123RF

Figures from the Ministry of Social Development for the past three months show around 190,000 people on the jobseeker benefit, 6.1 percent of the working age population.

There's been a 10 percent decrease in people receiving the "work ready" Jobseeker benefit from June 2020, to June 2021.

Over the past three months more than 31,000 people found jobs and got off the benefit - nearly 10,000 of those had been on the benefit for more than a year.

It's the second highest number of people finding work since records began.

One man who was affected by Covid-19 job losses is Mark - he's spent nearly a year unemployed, but recently found part-time work driving trucks.

But he isn't included in today's benefit numbers because he was never able to access welfare as his wife earns too much - despite their finances being totally separate.

He's not convinced today's figures tell the whole story.

"The government was hiding a lot of you figures because a lot of the people couldn't get any help."

The East Coast was the region with the biggest change in jobseeker numbers - a seemingly small 0.6 percent shift.

Northland remains the region with the highest unemployment rate - 10.5 percent, compared to the Southern region on 4.2 percent.

Ricky Houghton is the chief executive of He Korowai Trust in Kaitaia - he said employment won't come down until the government gives the regions a boost.

"The government contracts need to be partitioned out into the regions so the regions can have a fighting chance. But when you have a contract, sort of tendered nationally, the regions miss out. We can't work our magic at a very local level, in a very local way."

Overall the number of people on the benefit remains above pre-pandemic levels.

National's social development spokesperson Louise Upston said that was because the government had failed to create the jobs it had promised, and 70,000 more people were receiving an unemployment benefit than in 2017.

All up, there is just over 354,000 people on a benefit.

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