14 Jul 2009

Extra WINZ staff hired to deal with unemployment rise

1:46 pm on 14 July 2009

Work and Income is taking on extra staff in Northland to cope with a sharp rise in unemployment.

The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Northland is now more than 2,800 - nearly double what it was a year ago.

The region's unemployment rate, at 6.9%, is the highest in the country.

Nationally, the number of people claiming unemployment benefit topped 50,000 in June.

Work and Income says it has 230 jobs on its books and is finding work for about 25 people a week. Over the last month, however, 70 people a week have been coming in to sign up for the dole, including highly skilled workers.

Northland's Commissioner of Social Development, Clive Manley, says Work and Income is recruiting five new case managers and three more work brokers to cope with demand.

Mr Manley says although the increase in unemployment has been steep the jobless total is still less than half what it was in Northland in June 2003.