Benefit numbers decrease in February

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development and Employment Youth Affairs

The number of New Zealanders on a benefit decreased by nearly 10,000 during February says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

There are 344,060 people on a benefit now, down from 354,058 in January.

“Over February, the number of people on an Unemployment Benefit fell by 3,779 and young people account for half of that decline,” says Ms Bennett.

The number of people on an Unemployment Benefit is now 64,308, down from 68,087 in January.

“It’s great to see fewer people on an Unemployment Benefit, but our challenge now is dealing with the effect of last month’s earthquake,” says Ms Bennett.

The impact of the Christchurch earthquake is yet to filter through to benefit figures.

“The Government’s support package has bought some time for employers and individuals to determine what the future holds,” says Ms Bennett.

The support package is keeping 35,000 staff and sole traders linked to their jobs and supporting 3,000 individuals who’re out of work.

“We have to be prepared for an increase in benefit numbers as a result of the earthquake, that’s just a reality. But it’s good to see so many employers are accessing support to keep their staff in work,” says Ms Bennett.

Work and Income offices continue to list around 1,500 new jobs every week.

“Last month more than 8,000 beneficiaries went off welfare and into work, which is a great achievement in a tight labour market,” says Ms Bennett.