Massive jump in dole numbers – minister washes her hands

Written By: - Date published: 3:32 pm, January 22nd, 2010 - 17 comments
Categories: unemployment, welfare - Tags:

You may remember that late last year John Key, Bill English and Paula Bennett could hardly find the words to praise themselves for the falling numbers on the dole. That was until I pointed out that it was a seasonal dip that always occurs between September and November, and, actually, the seasonally dip over the previous nine years average 5.2%, not the merger 2.6% Key and co were skiting over.

Now, predictably, the seasonal dip has ended and dole numbers have spiked up. The suprise, though, is by how much. The usual Nov-Dec increase is 9.2%, this time it was 13.3%

The number on the dole increased by 7,787 – from 58,541 to 66,328. Of course, Bennett tries to dismiss this enourmous increase as the seasonal variation but just take a look at the trend over the last year and see if you believe her.

And how’s this for genius calls from the minister:

“This time last year 1,772 people come off the benefit – last month that number more than doubled with 3,810 people getting off the benefit and into work.”

Yeah, that’s because twice as many people are on the benefit, Paula. Same churn rate, double the population. And if you think about it, if 3,810 people went off the dole, and the net increase was 7,787, then 11,597 new people went on the dole in December – 600 per work day.

I’m loving this relentless focus on jobs.

17 comments on “Massive jump in dole numbers – minister washes her hands”

  1. fraser 1

    just before the grammar pedants arrive – “merger 2.6%”?


  2. Rex Widerstrom 2

    I think it was Ghandi who said one can judge a society by how it treats its weakest members, though manyu have said something similar, from Pope John Paul II and Aristotle to Churchill and Hubert Humphrey, have said something similar.

    Having been unemployed I know it is one of the weakest positions one can be in, with only physical infirmity and illness capable of making you more helpless. From the mundane, physical things – the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the dwelling you occupy – to the most esoteric – your sense of worth, your bond with family – everything begins to deteriorate when you lose your job.

    On the basis of the test set by those many political, spiritual and moral leaders, Paula Bennett has failed – not just in her ability to rectify the situation (which one could charitably attribute to being out of her depth) – but most tellingly in her failure to empathise or care.

  3. BLiP 3

    Notice also on the day the unemployment figures are released John Key is no where near Basher Bennet – nope, he’s way off on the other side of the building releasing “good news” about giving private industry another $5 million subsidy.

  4. TightyRighty 4

    no idea what the government is supposed to do about all the numbers. unless we have a civil service increase, no thanks, the government is just the government and can’t tell business what to do and how to hire. i see what you say when they claim credit for the numbers falling however, and also think the numbers are not good. but public policy is a blunt tool and sometimes results can take longer to come in than seems apparent. the numbers for the start of the year will tell more of a story i believe.

  5. roger nome 5


    “unless we have a civil service increase, no thanks, the government is just the government and can’t tell business what to do and how to hire.”

    You obviously have quite a dull and unimaginative mind.

    • TightyRighty 5.1

      Thanks for that roger, i do know of these things, but it doesn’t change my basic point, the government can not tell employers what to do and how to hire. what you have there are intergrated policies that still require the cooperation of the employers, and the government opening their cheque book. not one or the other, both. and when the cupboard is bare……

      I know that getting more people into employment will increase the tax take, and reduce welfare bills but if the demand is not there for the goods and services being produced then it is just make work and possibly detrimental to business owners, so an economically irrational choice. consumer demand was only up .5% last quarter, the existing workforce can cover that quite easily.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 5.1.1

        Why do we have a Ministry for Economic Development then? To sit back and do nothing? Might want to look across the Tasman where you have a government who has taken steps keep people in work. You may be interested in their latest dole figures.

      • roger nome 5.1.2

        What about govt sponsored jobs that reduce our carbon emissions, thereby lowering our kyoto bill? economically rational enough?

  6. Sanctuary 6

    New Zealand has just about the biggest disparity in wealth in the OECD. What that wealth gap means is usually pretty abstract.

    But when you see these unemployment figures, and see thousands of your fellow citizens (the ones normally invisible to the Wellington elites) lining up for jobs with a supermarket, then compare it with the rarified atmosphere of elite opinion distilled in the 2025 task force and tax working group’s la la land proposals it suddenly gains a real meaning.

  7. ghostwhowalksnz 7

    I think the huge numbers lined up for the 150 jobs made a far more dismal picture than a few empty phrases from Tweedldumb and Tweedlekey

  8. sweetd 8

    Marty,for comparison sake, care to show the same quarter for the last 5 years?

    [lprent: Graph it (and it is a pain getting Open Office or even Excel to get even axis ordinates without dicking with the data) and I’ll put it up and link it to the post. Do some work and please stop whining.. You may be fabulous as a whining critic, but I’ve never seen ANY evidence that you are of any use whatsoever at anything else. ]

    • felix 8.1

      Try reading between the blank spaces.

      Now, predictably, the seasonal dip has ended and dole numbers have spiked up. The suprise, though, is by how much. The usual Nov-Dec increase is 9.2%, this time it was 13.3%

      • Descendant Of Smith 8.1.1

        And that’s 13.3% from a higher starting point presumably.
        As well as the %age increase for each of the 5 years the actual numerical increase might be useful.

  9. SPC 9

    The key figure might well be the number of couples dependent on one minimum wage level income because the partner who lost their job cannot get the dole.

    WFF, while it continues, provides something for those with children but some couples will be struggling at the moment.

    The criteria for income support for one income couples has not changed in years – even though the minimum wage is now much higher (as are living costs) – and means few now qualify for help.

    Obviously there needs to be a guaranteed minimum income for couples where one works and one has lost their job and this needs to be adjusted regularly.

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