Over 300,000 Kiwis on benefits

02:54, Jun 30 2009

The number of New Zealanders receiving a benefit has risen to 302,000 - the highest level since 2005.

There was "no escaping" the effects of the recession on the economy, Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett told Parliament's social services select committee this morning.

As unemployment soared the number of people receiving the dole increased by a net 1000 a week and the number of people claiming other benefits also rose, Ms Bennett said.

"We are seeing unemployment rising more sharply than in previous recessions."

Maori, Pacific Island and youth unemployment were of particular concern with more than 15,000 Maori, 5000 Pacific people and 15,000 youth receiving an unemployment benefit to the end of May, Ms Bennett said.

A lack of skills and experience meant people aged 18-24 always felt the effects of a recession "more acutely".


"They are the last to enter work and the first to come out when things go bad."

There are more than 45,000 total people on the unemployment benefit, with estimates the number will rise to at least 90,000.

"There's been a rise across all benefits.

"In addition to the increasing number of people coming on to the unemployment benefit, Ministry of Social Development are forecasting increases in the invalids and sickness benefits as well as increasing costs for supplementary assistance."

The economic situation was continually changing and New Zealand was doing "quite well" when compared internationally.