On a benefit but finding a job no easy task
New figures from the Ministry of Social Development show the number of people on the dole in Nelson and Motueka is still on the rise, while domestic purposes benefit and invalid's benefit numbers have fallen.
Richmond beneficiary Teila-Jane Simpson receives the sole parent support payment while at home with 4-year-old son Josiah Barkman, but she is keen to get out of the house and back to work.
Ms Simpson developed an anxiety condition after a car she was driving was hit by a drunk driver in January.
Josiah was a passenger but escaped uninjured, while his mother's knee was "totally shattered".
She had not been able to work since Josiah's birth due to health problems that had him "in and out" of hospital frequently, but said now that he was in a more stable condition, a job would go a long way toward helping her feel more secure and in control of her life.
With only an "old" hairdresser's qualification, she was finding Nelson's job market intimidating. She looked forward to the completion of Kmart and The Warehouse at the former Placemakers site in Queen St as they would bring new job opportunities.
"I really want to work because I hate being stuck at home - I'd like to get off the benefit completely.
"I can't sit at home by myself; that's when I start winding myself up. I'm fine when I'm up and about."
In the meantime, Ms Simpson keeps herself busy working upwards of five hours a week at the Richmond Riding for the Disabled. She said she called the branch when she decided she wanted to do something with her time that would help the community.
General manager of human resources consultancy Intepeople, Julie Baxendine, said her firm had recently seen more people register on its database seeking jobs.
She said Intepeople had provided "outplacement support" to more than 10 Nelson companies over the last two to three years helping those who had been laid off make decisions about their employment.
"Some find jobs, some take the opportunity to retire, some move away out of the area and I suppose some do go on the benefit."
Ms Baxendine said it was important to remember the human cost of downsizing.
"What's really important is the effect of having a redundancy on the individual, the feeling of not being valued and the loss of confidence."
However, she also said Intepeople had noticed signs that employment in Nelson was starting to pick up.
She said there were more jobs out there than six months ago, and more positions being created.
"It's not huge like it was a few years ago, but we have noticed a change over the last six months."
She said it was difficult to make comparisons between Nelson and other cities, but Nelson's job market was "probably more buoyant than Marlborough" and on a par with other cities of its size.
Between June and the same month last year, 55 new people of working age were signed up to the unemployment benefit.
This represents an increase of 7 per cent over last June's total of 813 people.
Following nationwide changes on July 15, people receiving this benefit have been moved to a new category named "Jobseeker Support".
There has also been a significant rise in the number of people registering for the unemployment benefit over the last five years.
Since June 2008, the number of registered unemployment beneficiaries has risen from 124 to last month's total of 868.
The sharpest increase was seen in the Nelson and Richmond area, which jumped from 50 people receiving the unemployment benefit in 2008 to 723 in just five years.
Motueka started off with 74 registered unemployment beneficiaries in 2008 and hit a high of 149 last year before falling slightly to 145 last month.
The number of Nelson and Motueka residents receiving the domestic purposes benefit has dropped this year.
There were 2175 people receiving the DPB in June last year, and 2054 last month.
A new category named "Sole Parent Support" replaced the DPB following widespread changes to social welfare on July 15.
People receiving the DPB under the "Women Alone" category and some who get the "Sole Parent" categories have been moved to "Jobseeker Support", while sole parents with children aged under 14 are now classified under sole parent support.
This year's total still represents a rise of 13 per cent since June 2008, when 1820 people received the DPB.
The figures on working-age recipients of the invalid's benefit, now called the "Supported Living Payment", also show a decline.
Since June 2008, the number of invalid beneficiaries has fallen by 23 per cent from 2215 to 1709.
This year there are 32 fewer Nelson and Motueka residents on the invalid's benefit compared to last year.
The Nelson Mail