22 Apr 2010

Fewer people claiming a benefit

10:10 pm on 22 April 2010

The number of people in New Zealand claiming a benefit has fallen for the first time in a year.

There were 20,000 fewer people on a benefit at the end of March than there were at the end of 2009.

The numbers claiming a benefit hit a peak of 345,476 at the end of last year.

Ministry of Social Development figures show 20,000 people came off benefits in the three months to March.

More than half the fall came from training, emergency, hardship and independent youth benefits. Fewer sickness benefits made up about a quarter of the decrease.

However, the numbers claiming unemployment benefits fell by 6000 during the period to 60,211.

The number of long-term beneficiaries increased slightly during the first quarter of the year.

Thirty-three per cent have been receiving a benefit for more than a year, up from 30% at the end of 2009.