Tue, 18 May 2021

WELLINGTON, April 15 (Xinhua) -- The New Zealand government's COVID-19 response has meant a record number of people moved off a benefit and into employment in the first quarter of this year, with 32,880 moving into work.

"More people moved into work last quarter than any time since the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) began keeping electronic records in 1996," Minister of Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement on Thursday.

"The investment the government has made during our response to COVID-19 is working and has led to lower than predicted unemployment," Sepuloni said.

"The longer people remain on a benefit the more difficult it becomes for them to re-enter the labor market, so early interventions are vital," she said, adding the government invested in the Wage Subsidy to keep people in work, and invested an additional 150 million NZ dollars (107 million U.S. dollars) to increase MSD's employment and financial services as part of the COVID-19 recovery package.

The quarterly statistics show that more people are moving off benefit than coming on. The number of people now receiving a Main Benefit is 365,937, a fall of 23,563 from the previous quarter, statistics show.

This positivity is reflected in the latest jobs online data which shows vacancies increased 73.7 percent compared to a year earlier, Sepuloni said.

"Vacancies are up across all industries with most growth being seen in healthcare, manufacturing, construction and hospitality," she added.

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