The number of employed people in Hawke's Bay and Gisborne has risen to its highest figure in at least two years - but so has the number of unemployed.

Figures released by Statistics New Zealand show there were more than 100,000 employed people in the Hawke's Bay/Gisborne area in the March 2016 quarter, after those looking for work rose more than 5000 in the last quarter.

Of the 110,000 people in the labour force, about 9200 people were unemployed in the March 2016 quarter - an 8.4 per cent unemployment rate, the highest quarterly figure since March 2014.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said he was confident the labour force growth was positive for the area, and was optimistic those seeking work would find it.


"The whole positive attitude has rubbed off and people are looking at employing.

"[Businesses are] talking about positive markets, opportunities, growth and looking at how they can increase their numbers of staff to meet the productivity need."

He said there were jobs available but jobseekers often lacked the experience or training necessary.

He said community groups and organisations throughout the Bay, such as Takitimu Ora, U-Turn Trust and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, helped train and support people into employment.

Throughout the country there were almost 2.4 million people in employment - also the highest in at least two years.

The unemployment rate rose slightly in the March quarter to 5.7 per cent, but was lower than the 2014 and 2015 average.

About 38,000 more people were seeking jobs in the March quarter compared with the December 2015 quarter, and 118,000 more than in March 2014.

Almost a quarter of 15- to 19-year-olds looking for work were unemployed.