We have seen employers crying about having to make those decisions.Carol Barnett, Work & Income regional labour market manager Northlanders of all occupations are applying for the unemployment benefits, and numbers receiving the benefit have doubled in the past year.
Whangarei district has 1211 residents on the unemployment benefit, half of the Northland total. The tally for the district doubled in the year to May 30, up from 656 to 1211 at May 30 last year. The number of Northlanders on all benefits (domestic purpose, invalid, sickness and unemployment) has increased in the past year.
Work & Income regional labour market manager Carol Barnett said people in all socio-economic groups and occupations were losing their jobs, but the transport industry had recently taken a big hit. The figures were not increasing at the same rate as in other regions, meaning that technically Northland was less badly affected than elsewhere but levels of distress and anxiety were still the same, whatever the numbers, she said.
The regional tally for people on all categories of benefits was 15,109 at May 30, up from 13,268 a year ago. Jobs also appear to be scarce with just 57 positions on the department of Work & Income's Northland job search site last week.
The largest number of vacancies was in "food preparation and serving-related occupations" - but just 11 for the whole region. "Personal care and service" was next, with six vacancies. Only four management positions were on offer, one in Whangarei, one in Kaitaia and two in the Bay of Islands. There were five listed under each of the two headings, farming/fishing/forestry, and installation/maintenance/repair.
The "personal care and service" had the second-highest number of vacancies after food preparation, just six.
The other listings are a sprinkling of a wide number of occupations, from sales to cleaning, social service and library work. A lone graphic designer is required in the Bay of Islands.
Ms Barnett said employers often felt as upset as staff who were being made redundant.
"We have seen employers crying about having to make those decisions."
Ms Barnett said the redundancy support seminars, which Work & Income and Inland Revenue Department personnel would present to any business where there was redundancy regardless of numbers, had been extremely effective.
"There hasn't been significant up-take on this in Northland yet - possibly because people aren't aware of it. It can make a big difference in how employees feel when they have to leave their workplace," she said.
The biggest worry was often how to cope with paying the mortgage, she said.
The government's  Restart package - which can be part of the redundancy support seminars - gave people all the information they needed about help they might be entitled to, including tax relief, subsidies for retraining, accommodation supplements, and extra benefits. But Ms Barnett said the department's primary focus was getting people back into work and it was making every effort to see that front-line Work & Income staff had the resources they needed to work with the increasing number of
clients coming through the door.