Dozens of out-of-work Northlanders are registering for job opportunities each day as latest figures show the region has the proportion in New Zealand of its working age group receiving Jobseeker benefits.
Just over one tenth or 11,362 of 106,200 Northlanders between the ages of 18 and 64 in full-time work as at May 15 were on the Jobseeker benefit and more are joining the queue each week.
The real number of people out of work may be higher - some people are not entitled to a benefit because their partner is in work.
Restricted trading as a result of Covid-19 is being blamed for most of the job losses, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Figures from the Ministry of Social Development show 1932 Northlanders went on the Jobseekers benefit between between March 27, which lockdown began, and May 15.
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Owner of Direction Recruitment in Whangārei Paula Kalkhoven said "hundreds" were applying online for any jobs as they wanted to get back into the workforce.
Her office is receiving between a "huge" 10 and 20 applications every day. "With wage subsidy expiring, I see another wave of jobseekers coming in as employers won't be able to keep them for long. March, April, and May are traditionally our busiest time but the numbers we're seeing at present are absolutely huge and it's pretty much because of Covid," she said.
Kalkhoven said jobseekers were applying for work in accounts, administration and customer services in small and big businesses mostly in Whangarei.
"They are basically applying for anything as they want to get back into work and having come out of an office environment, they are not fussy. It's unbelievable."
The number of job losses in Northland as a direct result of Covid-19, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors, is unknown at this stage.
Nationally, job numbers fell by a record 37,500 in April alone— the largest drop since Stats NZ began recording data for filled jobs in 1999.
Since the start of Covid-19 restrictions, about 43,000 people throughout New Zealand have signed up for the Jobseeker benefit, pointing to a sharp upturn in job losses.
Simone Nordstrom worked for an year as a personal assistant and an interior design intern for a company in Whangārei and she would be made redundant on July 17.
Her boss told her on the second week of level 4 lockdown that work had dried up before she went on the wage subsidy, which expires on June 8.
Nordstrom would rather opt for the $490 a week tax-free Covid Income Relief Payment from June 8 rather than the jobseeker benefit but her biggest hurdle is finding another job.
The new temporary payment of $490 a week to those who lost full-time work and $250 for part-time workers is designed to support New Zealanders adjust and find new employment or retain their current jobs.
People with partners who are still working may be eligible for this payment, as long as their partner is earning less than $2000 a week.
"There are a lot of people out there looking for work. Over 200 on Trade Me have added their names to the watch list. Money is not really a big factor as I got some savings but there's not a lot of work out there," Nordstrom said.
Whangārei Youth Space general manager Ryan Donaldson said it was a huge setback, particularly for young people to lose their jobs not long after securing employment.
"Employers are likely to pick someone with experience than young people and that's where people in the 18 to 24 age group are disadvantaged and a lot of people don't have the resilience to cope with something like that.
"They are unable to explore other opportunities like upskilling themselves or getting into studies. I think more apprenticeships should be opened up by employers with much-needed government backing."
Donaldson said part of the employment programme Whangārei Youth Space ran for 10 young people every six months was to get them job-ready and skilled so they could fit in seamlessly in jobs.
MSD stats show 2193 more Northlanders were on the Jobseeker benefit since the start of the year to May 15.
The number of people who went on that benefit rose a staggering 37 per cent in the past 12 months alone.
Most of them lived in the Far North, followed by those Whangārei, then Kaipara residents.
There have been a number of high profile announcements from major companies about widespread job losses around the country, including 3500 at Air New Zealand, 1000 at Fletcher Building and more than 910 at Millennium & Copthorne Hotels.