The number of people receiving a benefit increased by 0.6 per cent during May but overall numbers remain below forecast, the Government said today.

"With seasonal work winding up we expected to see a slight increase in unemployment benefit figures but it is much lower and has occurred later than it did last year," Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said.

There are currently 329,349 people on benefits and the unemployment benefit makes up 60,106 of that number.

Ms Bennett said that during May an extra 729 people went onto a sickness benefit, 342 more on the DPB and 391 more on an unemployment benefit.

- NZPA