New Zealanders on the jobseeker benefit has jumped 11.2 per cent in a year, increasing by almost 14,000 people since June, 2018.
National said the figures were a reflection of Labour "failing to move people out of poverty" - however, the Government maintain the numbers need to be looked at in perspective, and it was not "the time for scaremongering".
The Ministry of Social Development's benefit data for the June 2019 quarter showed a 5.2 per cent jump in the number of working-age people receiving main benefits in the last year.
It showed 291,969 working age people on a benefit, which was 9.7 per cent of the working-age population.
This included jobseeker support, sole parent support and supported living payment.
Of the jobseeker support, 4.5 per cent of the working-age population were receiving this benefit - increasing 11.2 per cent by 13,720 since June 2018 to 136,233 people.
Regionally, Northland had the highest percentage of people on jobseeker benefits, with 8.7 per cent of the working age population on the benefit. This was up 0.8 per cent from June 2018.
The Bay of Plenty followed on 6.4 per cent and Taranaki had 6.3 per cent on the jobseeker support.
Canterbury (3.4 per cent) and Southern (3.5 per cent), which included Southland and Otago, had the lowest working age population on the jobseeker support.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni told 1 NEWS the numbers needed to be looked at in perspective, keeping in mind there had been population growth and the number of people on a main benefit was lower than figures since 2016.
Ms Sepuloni pointed out the percentage of the working age population on a benefit, which now sits at 9.7 per cent, was 9.6 per cent in June 2017, 9.9 per cent in June 2016, 10.3 per cent in 2015 and 10.8 per cent in June 2014.
She said there was a "softening" in the strength of industries such as manufacturing and retail, and the Ministry of Social Development were putting a lot of focus into upskilling and training works so they could obtain long-term skilled work.
"This isn't the time for scaremongering," she said.
National said the rise showed Labour was "failing to move people out of poverty".
"The most proven way out of poverty is through work," said social development spokesperson Louise Upston. "It's incomprehensible that the number on jobseeker benefits continues to rise as businesses consistently report staff shortages."
"New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.
"The cost of living has dramatically increased under this Government, and this is reflected in almost half a million hardship grants being issued in the past 12 months. More and more New Zealanders are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their heads."
The number of people on benefits who received sanctions in the June 2019 quarter was 11,400 - dropping by 814 compared to the June 2018 quarter.
Overall, 487,539 hardship assistance payments were issued in the quarter, totalling $142,581,224. This was a jump from the June 2018 quarter where 321,244 were granted worth $88,129,108.