Businesses have been paid $9.9 billion to help cover the cost of 1.6 million workers, which Finance Minister Grant Robertson says has helped limit the increase in new welfare claims.
The government rolled out the wage subsidy package on March 17, paying firms a lump sum for 12 weeks, which Robertson said got money into people's bank accounts faster than similar schemes overseas. That has helped limit the increase in job seeker benefits claims to 23,000, he said.
Robertson was standing in for the Prime Minister at the daily press briefing, and noted that Cabinet will decide on Monday whether to ease the lockdown provisions currently in place.
"Whether we remain at level 4 or move to level 3, government support for businesses and assistance for workers remains vital and will continue," he said.
"It will cushion the economic hit and it will help keep New Zealanders in jobs and our businesses viable."
He said more work was being done on how to help businesses, households and individuals over the coming weeks and months.
Robertson noted the Treasury release of a new weekly economic dashboard to provide a gauge of how the domestic economy is tracking.
The dashboard showed 1.42 million people were covered by the wage subsidies at April 9, and that job seeker claims jumped 22,000 between March 20 and April 8.
The Treasury said it expects unemployment benefit claims to keep rising and that the government has stated further stimulus is being developed to provide support through the next phase of the response.
Payroll firm FlexiTime has also noticed a decline in the workforce. It specialises in providing payroll software for firms with part-time and casual workers, including in hospitality and tourism.
Using a sample of 26,577 workers across 2,300 businesses paid weekly, FlexiTime said there was a 16 per cent decrease in weekly wages to $755.64 in the week ended April 11 compared to the week through March 14, before the lockdown. Staff numbers were also down 11.6 per cent, or 3,085.
In total, FlexiTime's figures showed firms' weekly wage bill dropped 21 per cent to $8,305.
"Businesses are trying to save costs to stay afloat until after the lockdown," chief executive Robert Owen said in a statement.
"We are seeing a total drop in wage costs of 21 per cent, coming from a 16 per cent drop in weekly pay for employees and a reduction in the number of employees being paid."
His firm has offered a subscription holiday to its customers receiving the wage subsidy, and about 400 have taken that up.
"Providing a free subscription is a small contribution, but when your business isn't bringing in any revenue every dollar counts," he said.
Who's been paid out lately:
• Bell Gully - 260 employees were paid $1.8 million.
• Baker Tilly - 243 employees were paid $1.68 million.
• BDO - 157 employees were paid $1.08 million.
• White Island Tours - 36 employees were paid $150,000.
• Blue Sky Meats - 340 employees were paid $2.4 million.
• Silver Fern Farms - $43.3 million
• Alliance Group - $34.4 million
• Mataura Valley Milk - 88 staff were paid $616,000.