Benefit numbers decrease as expected

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development and Employment

The number of New Zealanders receiving an Unemployment Benefit dropped by almost 4000 in the last month, while overall benefit figures fell by 11,477.

8,316 people went off a benefit because they found work.

"Part of the decrease is expected due to seasonal work and students returning to study, but there's also been an increase in available jobs," says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

2,500 Maori cancelled their benefit in March because they found employment, as did 546 Pacific Islanders.1,110 sole parents also cancelled their DPB and went into paid work.

"Work and Income have over 6000 jobs listed and even in January when Unemployment Benefit figures were at their highest, we had over 4,000 jobs listed, so work is out there," says Ms Bennett.

The 3,934 drop in Unemployment Benefit figures over March is a 6 percent reduction compared with a 7 percent increase over the same period last year.

The number of young people on the Unemployment Benefit has now reduced for ten consecutive weeks at an average of 439 a week.

"These figures illustrate a very slowly emerging, positive trend of people going off benefits and into work or training.

Though it's still a long road back to where we were before the recession and benefit numbers may still rise again when seasonal work drops off," says Ms Bennett.

There are now 324,814 people on a benefit, as at the end of March, of those 60,211 are on the Unemployment Benefit.

The official unemployment rate is still at 7.3 percent according to the latest Household Labour Force survey.

"Clearly we are still experiencing a weak labour market and it's taking time to recover from a recession but many of our most vulnerable are leaving the benefit and finding work," says Ms Bennett.