The number of recipients of the Jobseeker Support benefits in the Bay of Plenty has increased by more than 1000 people since last year.
Ministry of Social Development data shows from 2019 second quarter, the number of recipients increased by 13.15 per cent, from 9559 to 10,816 since the second quarter of 2018.
Regionally, Northland had the highest percentage of people on Jobseeker benefits, with 8.7 per cent of the working-age population on the benefit.
But the Bay of Plenty followed with 6.4 per cent for jobseeker support.
The number of recipients slightly increased for those on the supported living payment by 0.59 per cent, from 5221 to 5252 and for the sole parent support by 4.51 per cent, from 4791 to 5007.
Overall, the number of people in the Bay of Plenty receiving main benefits increased by 7.14 per cent, from 19,948 to 21,372 for the same time period.
A ministry spokeswoman said quarterly spikes could be subject to seasonal variation which recurs every calendar year.
While year-on-year the number of beneficiaries has risen slightly – the latest benefit statistics show an estimate of 9.7 per cent of the working-age population were receiving a benefit at the end of June 2019, up from 9.4 per cent the same time last year.
This is a 0.3 per cent change, which the ministry spokeswoman said could be partly attributed to population growth in the region.
Mike Bryant, the ministry's regional commissioner in the Bay of Plenty, said labour market conditions were an important contributor to easing people's ability to find and stay in work.
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"Long-term trends show that the labour market is generally strong in terms of the employment rate, and the growth has been concentrated in higher-skilled occupations, which may not always be relevant for many of our client groups.
"Our observations are the local labour market in Bay of Plenty remains robust and reasonably buoyant."
He said the most common areas the ministry helped people gain jobs in were the hospitality and service industry, manufacturing, processing, trades and labouring.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said he supported benefits but believed there needed to be parameters.
"We have to have benefits no question about that but I'm not confident we have the balance right.
"I'm not saying it is being abused but we need to take a lot of care for it not to be."
However, Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said he knew plenty of businesses that were looking for a range of labour and therefore believed there was a disconnect in the data.
"The Government is looking at the vocational skills training to make sure there is available skilled labour and obviously that can't happen sooner enough."
Bay of Plenty Labour MP Angie Warren-Clarke said while studying the data it was important to understand the region had lower unemployment and an increase in population.
"I know people are still looking for work and any level of unemployment is not a good thing but growth is stronger.
"We are seeing some really positive outlook for our country as a whole."
Te Puke and Rotorua National MP Todd McClay said the increase in people on Jobseeker benefits was surprising as he believed businesses needed more workers.
"It feels counterintuitive. I'd be concerned if we continue to see this trend grow because actually, people are better off in the workforce.
"They must be encouraged to go back in the workforce and I sense this is not happening now."
Rotorua New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau said for too long unemployment and jobseeker numbers had been high in Rotorua.
"Which is exactly why local projects are being enabled and accelerated with the Provincial Growth Fund.
"This Government knows that these hugely important projects are critical to lowering unemployment in our region."