COVID-19: More people receiving income support now than during the global financial crisis - figures

Ministry of Social Development figures have revealed there are more people receiving income support than during the global financial crisis (GFC). 

The figures show Jobseeker Support reached 192,327 last Friday, up from 145,006 in March. 

Brad Olsen of Infometrics says the numbers will rise when the wage subsidy scheme finishes next month.

"Taking four months to do what during the GFC took 21 months highlights the tough position for a number of Kiwis and a number of businesses out there," he told Newshub.

Infometrics says the number of people now being supported by a benefit due to COVID-19 is more than the population of Napier. 

"Stories and data from across New Zealand highlight the intense competition for the jobs that are available."

It's been 84 days since a case of COVID-19 was recorded in  New Zealand from an unknown source - much of that coming down to the country's tight border measures. The only known cases of coronavirus in NZ are people who have returned from overseas and in managed isolation.

However, the country is now facing high debt to prevent the economy from collapsing.

A $50 billion Budget was revealed earlier this year, targeted at helping with the economic response to COVID-19.

But Infometrics says job losses are happening despite the Government spending $13b on wage subsidies aimed at cushioning the blow for unemployment.

Infometrics forecasts unemployment as a result of COVID-19 will rise "into next year".

A Massey University survey, meanwhile, has shown one in three New Zealanders has lost income in the wake of COVID-19.

Either the survey respondent or a member of their household had been made jobless or seen their work hours slashed. 

Survey lead Jagadish Thaker told Newshub Māori were more likely to be unemployed.

"Māori were two-and-a-half times more likely to say that they're unable to pay their monthly bills; 34 percent compared to 14 percent for New Zealand Europeans.

Most respondents said healthcare is extremely important for their vote in the September election. Thaker said the Government needs to focus on the survey findings.

"The economy still needs to bounce back - we have seen only a few signs of doing that so I believe that the experts and the Government needs to be focusing on minority groups - Maori specifically, to be able to get them back to business."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said on Monday the leftover $14b in the Government's COVID-19 recovery fund won't be spent before the election.

"If it's not needed, the money will not be spent, it will not be borrowed, and we will have less to repay," he said.

"We cannot predict exactly what lies ahead in the face of this - now is the time to be cautious and keep our powder dry."