64yo Christchurch man who lost job during lockdown still unemployed despite nearly 200 applications

One Christchurch man who lost his job during lockdown is possibly the most persistent jobseeker in the country.

He's applied for nearly 200 jobs since, but cannot find employment.

Craig Cormack says he feels like his future has been robbed and he's just one of thousands in the country's rising unemployment numbers.

Sixty-four-year-old Craig Cormack might be near superannuation age, but he's nowhere near ready for retirement.

"Hell no - I've still got a lot of life left in me," he says.

The experienced salesman has had a long successful career which ended abruptly in lockdown after the company he'd worked for for five years had a plummet in sales and then a restructure.

Ever since then Cormack has been desperate to get back to work. Now unemployed for the first time in his adult life, he's applied for 185 jobs as well as cold-calling and handing out his CV.

"I've got to the interview stage many times and it always seems someone's more skilled and I just don't make it across the line," he says.

He is highly skilled, highly motivated and ambitious but this is painfully hard for him.

"One morning I woke up and thought 'what the hell have I got to get up for'," he says.

Cormack is not alone. Unemployment has been rising steadily since the pandemic hit.

Now, 12.5 percent of Kiwis are on a benefit and just in the past week, nearly 1800 new people signed up for one.

Jobseeker support as of early January sits at over 135,000 people. That's over 50,000 more people than at the same time last year. Just over 2000 people are still getting the COVID-19 income relief payment.

Cormack now gets the bare minimum from the government to live each week. He has a small amount of savings - meant for his retirement - that he's chewing through just to meet his weekly costs.

He says he's a great employee and can use his skill set in various industries.

"I want a meaningful job, something that keeps the brain active," he says.

He says Kiwis may feel happy about our COVID status but that's not the reality for many like him.

"The team of five million, but I got carried off the field. I'm not part of it."

All he wants is a job and a future that doesn't feel quite so bleak.