A large number of job losses in the South Island has prompted a union to suggest a South Island or regional subsidy for unemployed workers.
While no precise figures are kept on job losses, close to 350 redundancies in the South Island have been reported in the last month, compared with about 250 job losses in the North Island.
Ged O'Connell, from the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union, says the South Island cannot afford to lose more workers.
He says a regional or South Island employment subsidy could encourage unemployed workers to remain in their communities, instead of moving to larger cities such as Auckland.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie says there should be more debate and thought about how to assist areas hit hard by redundancies.
Mr Christie says smaller communities need to ensure skilled workers remain in the area so their skills are available when the economy recovers.