Job-hunters desperate to find part-time work are applying in their hundreds for vacancies that pay little more than the minimum wage.

The number of Kiwis looking for part-time jobs has skyrocketed as students, mothers returning to the workforce and those struggling to find a full-time job compete for work.

Recruitment experts say tough financial conditions have forced many to consider part-time work to get by. Others are seeking a greater work:life balance.

Statistics New Zealand reported that the number of jobless looking for part-time work increased from 50,900 to 57,000 in the year to March.

An accounting role advertised with Alpha Recruitment drew 230 applications and a $14-an-hour bartending job at the Northern Steamship Macs Brewbar in central Auckland drew more than 250 applications this month.

The minimum pre-tax wage for people aged 16 and over is $13 an hour.

At least 50 of those seeking the bar job delivered their CV in person to boost their chances.

Brewbar manager Jimmy Hadley said there had been a steady rise in the demand for part-time jobs. It was typical in a market in which the number of jobs available could not keep pace with demand.

"Anyone advertising at present has plenty of people applying," he said.

Applicants included experienced hospitality workers, students and mothers looking to increase earnings.

"The situation is pretty tough. People are wanting a bit of cash and people are losing their jobs but there are also more international students."

The number of people unemployed in March was 486,200, up from 474,300 a year earlier.

Madison Recruitment's Julie Cressey said many job-hunters were parents needing to work around school hours to bring in more money.

"There is financial pressure on people and for some people a second income is required," she said.

Alpha Recruitment manager Joanna Raply agreed. "I can see there's more desperate people out there who can't find jobs and they're frustrated. It's a tight market."

The number of part-time jobs listed on Trade Me and grew by 15 and 16 per cent respectively in the year to April.

The Ministry of Social Development said the number of part-time employees - working anything up to 30 hours a week - had increased by 13,000 since March last year.

Minister Paula Bennett said: "It's been a long haul since the recession. Overall, we are seeing more jobs and more people in work, which are really encouraging signs, but it is a modest recovery."

Bar work in hot demand

Dance student Emma Thumath was reduced to tears after a fruitless four-month search for part-time work. The University of Auckland student, in her 30s, has struggled to find a job to pay her living costs.

Thumath started looking for bar work. She dropped her CV into about 30 places and applied for jobs online.

She finally managed to secure casual work at a bar, but still needed a regular part-time job to pay her bills. So far there has been little response from employers.

"It's just bar work, which has a high turnaround. I thought surely dropping off your CV into bars would work but you never hear back," she said.

Making her search more difficult was the level of competition for jobs. Two hundred people applied for a recent position, leaving her little hope of selection.