Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Benefit numbers rise but are 'below forecast'

If she can find something good to say about them, the Minister of Social Development releases monthly benefit numbers;

The number of New Zealanders receiving a benefit increased slightly over the month of May by 0.6 percent, but overall numbers remain below forecast.

"With seasonal work winding up, we expected to see a slight increase in Unemployment Benefit figures, but it is much lower and has occurred later than it did last year," says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

All benefit types have increased by 1,887 in total.

An extra 729 people have gone onto a Sickness Benefit, 342 more people on the DPB and 391 more on an Unemployment Benefit.

Two things interest me. First a reason is offered for the rise in unemployment benefits but not for the rise in other benefits. So are we expected to assume that other benefits are a proxy for the dole? A net increase of 729 on the sickness benefit in one month is high. (The way this is depicted by the Minister is incorrect.)

Secondly, the best thing the government can say about the numbers is that they are below forecast. That amused me because at a Treasury session during the Welfare Working Group conference, which addressed the subject of benefits, projections and how to make provision for those projections, the presenter used the word "embarrassing" when he described how the projections are made. They are based on an assumption that the numbers are fixed proportions of age groups. Hence, the forecasts:

Of course, in the past the lines have been far from flat, and will be in the future.


PC said...

Have you ever thought about dong youyr own charts, Lindsay, and setting up a sort of mini-"Shadow Stats"?

Perhaps a few of us should club together to help cut through the cant?

baxter said...

I can't understand and take little notice of stats, how-ever part of the reason seasonal unemployment hasn't dipped may be because the horticultural season seems to me to be running about six weeks behind normal this year.