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A year on from the Covid-19 lockdown, Dunedin’s prospects are looking good, job seeker numbers suggest.
The latest quarterly update from the Ministry of Social Development shows a 10% fall in the number of people receiving job seeker support in Dunedin, as more people gain work in the recovering labour market.
This correlates with figures for the whole Southern region, where job seeker numbers are down 11% since December.
“It’s an exciting time for the Southern region. Not only do we have the lowest job seeker numbers in the country, we’ve also seen an increase in jobs being advertised in the region," MSD Southern regional commissioner Jason Tibble said.
"It’s really encouraging to see, that despite the challenges of Covid, we have employers advertising vacancies and getting involved in the labour market.
"There’s always more work to do, but this is a positive story for the region,” Mr Tibble said.
MSD also encouraged employers to make contact if they were looking for staff.
"We have a pool of keen people looking to get into work, and our work brokers are eager to match them to jobs," he said.
Nationally, 365,937 working-age people received a main benefit, as at the end of March — 11.7% of the working age population.
Job seeker support is received by 201,303 working-age people, or 6.4% of the working age population, as at the end of March.
The Government’s changes to the benefit abatement levels meant more money in the pocket for part-time or casual workers. Introduced from April 1, the changes mean people on benefits can earn $160 (before tax) without it affecting benefit payments.
Mr Tibble said while things were improving, Covid-19 continued to cause concern, "and for those who need time off work, this can be an issue".
MSD could provide help through two Covid payments available for employers — the short-term absence payment and the leave support scheme — so they could continue paying workers who were unable to work from home and had to self-isolate or get tested.
These could be applied for through the Work and Income website.
To simplify access to government support for employment, education and training, MSD has developed the "Connected" space in the Dunedin Work and Income service centre.
The service is part of nationwide network, which includes a website, phone line and 38 face-to-face spaces around the country, which can be accessed without an appointment.
Connected links New Zealanders to wide-ranging government support and advice for people looking for work, business support, study or training, including initiatives set up in response to Covid-19.
The Otago regional page on the Connected website, launched in March, enables people in Dunedin to find jobs, courses and business support near where they live and work.