Friday, August 11, 2023

Recession starts to bite

 In just one month the number of people receiving a main benefit has risen by almost 3,000.

Data released today shows that the percentage of the working-age population dependent on a main benefit rose from 11.2% at the end of June 2023 to 11.3% at the end of July 2023.

Over the same period in 2022 the increase was just 1,100 claimants meaning the proportion of the working age population stayed at 11%

Most of last month’s increase was due to a rise in Jobseeker numbers with approximately 1,800 more on Jobseeker Work Ready and a 900 increase in Jobseeker Health Condition/Disability claimants. The first reflects a weakening labour market while the second reflects an unresponsive and ineffective health system.

MSD acknowledges that, “The work exit rate for main benefits in July 2023 was relatively low compared with July months in prior years. In recent months, we have seen a reduced demand for labour, as indicated by the decline in online job advertisements in the June 2023 quarter.” They offer no rationale however for why numbers unable to work due to a health problem are over and above forecasts.

Māori made up the majority of the increase with 1,400 more main benefit clients; NZ European accounted for 800; Pacific people 400 and Asians 200 (almost 400 people did not specify an ethnicity, and some specified more than one ethnicity.)

Three years post the initial Covid lock-down key statistics continue to head in the wrong direction:


NB: The Monthly Benefit data series began during the first Covid lockdown and only dates back to April 2019.