The number of unemployed in Hawke's Bay has been slashed by more than half in just one year, as a focus on getting youngsters working pays dividends.

Statistics New Zealand figures released to Hawke's Bay Today show the region's unemployment rate is now just 4 per cent, down from 9.3 per cent at the same time last year.

All up, the data represents an extra 4400 people in employment.

It's the first time Hawke's Bay's unemployment rate has been at 4 per cent since the Government changed how it assessed unemployment numbers in 2016.


The national unemployment rate also fell yesterday, down to 3.9 per cent. Gisborne's rate was slightly higher at 4.7 per cent.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said there were still companies with entry-level employment options in the region that were struggling to fill the positions.

But he was delighted the number of people not in employment, education or training (Neets) was down by 900.

"I know the Ministry of Education has a dedicated person working hard to prevent Neets becoming Neets by identifying them early and putting preventative options in place. This is where information and relationships pay off," Walford said.

"I also know there is more work being done to change the perception of orchard work to be more science-based (full-time) rather than part-time picking and thinning. This approach seems to be attracting more people."

Earlier this year the Government announced a $1.7 million funding boost for youth employment programmes in the region.

It provided $460,000 to expand Hastings District Council's Connector Model programme, which employs specialists to build relationships with employers, local youth and whanau.

And $258,000 went to Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Takatu Youth Mentoring Programme to enable 140 rangatahi to gain driving qualifications.

The Hikoi4Life Trust and Les Hokianga's WorkFit programme received $765,000 to scale up existing support to get young people physically and mentally fit for work, while $194,000 went to the Development Hub to provide a work-readiness programme to support 36 young Māori and Pasifika women, including solo mothers.

Employment Minister Willie Jackson said the results indicated the Government was on the right path.

"This coalition Government's commitment and investment in regional New Zealand is having a major impact on employment, particularly in the Waikato, Otago and Gisborne/Hawke's Bay," Jackson said.

"I remain committed to seeing these rates reduce further and part of this will be my ongoing focus on rangatahi who are not earning or learning."