Unemployment may be falling again in South after September spike

Unemployment may be falling across Otago after reaching a second peak in September.

Figures released by the Ministry of Social Development show work-ready jobseeker claims in the region had largely been falling since a peak in May, but another spike at the start of spring.

Claims leapt up from 401 in August to 486 come September in Queenstown Lakes District, rose by 121 in Dunedin City District to 2976 and saw a gentle increase in Central Otago.

All three districts then recorded a decline in October.

Queenstown Chamber of Commerce chairman Craig Douglas said it was a complicated picture, with no single cause.

He said the spike in September may have been a result of the wage subsidy extension ending, Covid-19 income relief payments finishing or some other factor.

"I am hearing that about a third of people on the income relief benefit move across to [the] jobseeker [benefit]."

As the for the decline last month, he suggested some New Zealanders would have work previously held by visa-holders.

But, he said, many who remained on jobseeker support would be looking for more secure, permanent work than what was currently available.

He said some would have held down full-time, Monday to Friday jobs and were now faced with a rise in casual, part-time work that could be on any day of the week.

"It’s going to take people some time to get their heads around that and their home circumstances might not allow it, with childcare and partner’s work patterns."

He said employers would be looking to take on New Zealanders but a volatile market meant offering anything other than casual work was often hard.

Southland and Invercargill districts have followed a different trend, with the former seeing a gradual rise in claimants that is yet to peak.

Invercargill saw its worst figures in July, with 1828 claimants. Government figures showed this was down to 1644 by October.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment figures show in Otago and Southland, for the quarter ending September, there were 11.4% fewer jobs advertised online than in the same period last year.

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