The end of JobSeeker's coronavirus supplement has incentivised residents to get off the welfare payment an expert believes, but charities are bracing for an influx of need this winter.
About 9380 Border and North East residents received JobSeeker in April - 770 fewer than the 10,160 who collected the payment in March.
Business NSW Riverina-Murray regional manager Anthony McFarlane said April was the first month in a year where JobSeekers did not receive any form of coronavirus supplement.
The supplement, which was announced in March 2020, ended on March 31.
Mr McFarlane said anyone who was inspired to stay on the elevated JobSeeker payment rather than working, was now being flushed out and returning to the workforce.
"It's the first clear month where we can compare apples with apples now the disincentive effect has been flushed through," he said.
"It's also a positive sign that there are opportunities and the economy is generally picking up. When I look at that number and look at job vacancy index for the Murray-Riverina, which had I think as of April at about a 100 per cent increase in positions compare to pre-covid numbers - I think we're seeing recovery and more normalisation."
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Foodshare Albury-Wodonga's Peter Matthews said there was increased demand for food support during the lockdown as North East businesses were forced to close.
Mr Matthews said the number of people on JobSeeker might have lowered, but many people were still earning less than normal.
"From a general economic perspective the economy is quite buoyant," he said.
"Those who have the skills that are in demand can find employment quickly, it's those who have different skills, particularly those in Victoria who work casually in hospitality and other fields where operations have been restricted, or there are less people in venues so less workers needed.
"There are always pockets of demand in the community... we simply have to be prepared, which we are, because everything can change quite rapidly in the COVID environment."
Mr Matthews said when JobSeeker and other support benefits ended there wasn't the tidal wave of demand expected, but a more prolonged slow-release of need with many people seeking support once a large bill pushed them over the edge.
The service is expecting an influx of need in winter.
"People will run out of cash, and when that happens food becomes discretionary," he said.
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