Whanganui's unemployment figure has shown a slight improvement in the last quarter of 2015.

Nationally the unemployment figure had fallen to 5.3 percent of the workforce while in the Whanganui-Manawatu region it was sitting slightly higher at 6.8 per cent.

The local figures are based on the labour force within the Horizons Regional Council's borders and currently there are 122,000 in that bracket.

The latest Household Labour Force Survey shows that of that total labour force, 8400 were still without work in the region.

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Graeme Musson, managing director of On Call Central Ltd, which specialises in labour placement, said there was work available in Whanganui but people needed to be proactive if they hoped to get into either casual or fulltime positions.

"Business seems to be very positive in Whanganui at the moment even though it's still early in the New Year. But I think some of them may still be ramping up, so more positions may open up," Mr Musson said.

He said while he had found work for a number of clients, at least 80 per cent of vacancies still tended to be filled "by word of mouth".

"The point is if people want work they need to get off their butts. If they do that they'll find a job."

Mr Musson said he always asked clients what skills they had and what they wanted to be doing in the next five years.

"Sadly many of them haven't got a career path mapped out. But the thing is a lot of people I've put into causal work over the years have gone on to get full-time work. If they show they're prepared to work hard and are reliable they'll do okay," he said.

Releasing the survey results yesterday, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce said the latest figures had the national unemployment figure at its lowest in seven years.

Mr Joyce said there were an additional 21,000 jobs in the December quarter and 175,000 additional jobs over the past three years.

He said those falls had been across a number of regions including Whanganui-Manawatu, Northland, Gisborne/Hawke's Bay, Nelson/Tasman/Marlborough/West Coast, Taranaki and the Waikato.

The construction industry led the way with 27,500 more people employed in the year to December.

That was largely driven off residential construction in Auckland.

Wages continued to outpace cost of living increases, with the average weekly wage up 3.1 per cent in the past year, compared with inflation of 0.1 per cent.

"This quarter's unemployment rate is better than nearly all commentators anticipated. While that measure will continue to move around each quarter, the job growth and employment figures for New Zealand continue to be strong relative to nearly all other developed countries," Mr Joyce said.