The number of beneficiaries registered in Timaru has fallen by 382 in the last year, according to the Ministry of Social Development.
There were 3146 registered at the end of last month, compared to 3528 the previous year. There are 360 receiving the unemployment benefit, 182 receiving the domestic purposes benefit, 440 receiving the sickness benefit and 1275 receiving the invalid's benefit.
The figures are returning to 2007 levels where 3077 in Timaru were receiving a benefit. The numbers peaked in September 2011 at 3849.
The figures are in line with the national trend, which is dropping and is at its lowest since 2008.
There were 339,095 people receiving a benefit in New Zealand at the end of last year. That is 13,600 less than two years ago.
Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said that welfare reforms being rolled out by the National government were in their "transitional phase".
The job market in South Canterbury is plentiful, with the region experiencing high demand for builders, painters and labourers as the Christchurch rebuild gets underway.
Tradespeople looking for work can be on the job within hours, Timaru employment agency Personnel Placements says.
Consultant Jackie Clark said last week there had been a noticeable shortage of qualified tradespeople over the past six months.
Local building companies are seeking workers to fill the busy workload.
Todd Mudie, of Todd Mudie Group, said he was seeking a tradesperson and three trainees. Nolan Building Lo owner Daniel Nolan said he was looking for a hammerhand and labourer, while Thompson Construction administrator Mark Baird was hoping to fill a construction administration position.
AT A GLANCE
Number of people receiving a benefit registered in Timaru:
December 2012: 3146
December 2011: 3528
December 2007: 3077
- © Fairfax NZ News