Pretty Damned Hopeless

Guest post

Who and how many of those “pretty damned hopeless” people that Bill English refers to are there?

In December 2016 there were?124,311 on the jobseeker benefit which splits into two sub-groups; those who are ready for work and those who have a health or disability issues which affect the ability to work full-time or have to stop working for a while.

  • Job seekers ready for work 67,502
  • Jobseeker with disability or health issues 56,809

Since 2014 both sub-groups have been steady with those able to work at around 68k.


The female/male split has remained constant with 13k more males than female on Jobseeker support. Is the permanent hopeless more likely to be male than female?


While NZ European have been steadily declining, Maori, Pacific and other ethnics plateaued at Dec 2014 and are slowly increasing since then. Are NZ European more inclined to seek work than any other ethnic group?

Age Group.

While there has been a slight shift down in the 18-24 age group but at the same time, there has been an increase in the 25-39 age group. A lot of effort is put into get youth into the workforce, so numbers in the 18-24 are dropping off.

The 40 to 54yr age group are more willing and able to move off the jobseeker benefit. The older age group of 55 plus remains constant which reflects the frustration this age group have of been re-employed if they suffer a job loss later in their working life.

Continuous Duration.

Those who have been on the jobseeker benefit for one year of less has been slowly and steadily decreasing with a high in Dec 2011 of 63,453 down to 55,443 in December 2016.

It shows if out of work for less than a year there is still the motivation to seek work. However, out of work more than a year, there was a high of 80K in 2011 and 2012 which dropped away to 67K in 2014/2015 but now on the increase again to 68k at the end of last year.

Which is the strongest indication that there is roughly 67K who are struggling to get back into the workforce, this is where the permanent hopeless hang out.

In conclusion, there were 139,000 unemployed in December 2016, and 48% of these have been on the jobseeker benefit for more than 12 months.

They are more than likely to be Maori or Pacific Islander, male and between 25 and 39 years old.

These are the pretty damned hopeless Bill English was talking about regarding the unemployed.