An "awesome" drop in the number of people without jobs over the past three months has left Hawke's Bay with one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates.

Official labour market statistics released by Statistics New Zealand show that at the end of March, the combined Hawke's Bay and Gisborne regions had an unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent.

However, separate statistics supplied to Hawke's Bay Today by Stats NZ show that, when taken separately, Hawke's Bay's unemployment rate is now down to only 4.5 per cent, the lowest (jointly with Auckland) in the North Island, and the fourth lowest in New Zealand.

The figures, which Stats NZ said were indicative only, suggest a big jump in the number of employed - up by 3000 from the end of last year, as well as a fall in the number of unemployed - down 500 from December.


Hawke's Bay's total labour force also grew, up by about 2500 to an estimated 87,500. Similarly, there was a corresponding reduction in the number of people not in the labour force, which fell from an estimated 40,100 to 38,800.

Hawke's Bay Chamber of Commerce chief executive Wayne Walford said the results were "awesome" for the region, demonstrating confidence in the local job market.

"Hawke's Bay is doing very well economically, this in turn supports employment," he said.

"The horticulture season has been huge with many workers working six or seven days per week for prolonged periods.

"There are also a range of agencies around Hawke's Bay, from CHB to Wairoa, working hard to make sure young people in particular are a step closer to being ready for work.

"Agencies like LIFT, Jody Hamilton and Co, are recruiting young people with the right attitude, giving them confidence and using their contacts to find them employment. MSD are looking for smart ways of supporting people into roles that are now available due to the economic climate," Walford said.

"Positive experiences of the process into the workforce, plus the choices a few dollars provide, can help stimulate a desire by others to work."

Agencies such as Great Things Grow Here were also doing a great job in creating a sense of pride among locals by presenting local success stories.

Nationally, the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 per cent in the March quarter, indicating the Government is on track with its plan to get unemployment down to 4 per cent by 2020, Employment Minister Willie Jackson said.

"This is the lowest unemployment rate in New Zealand since December 2008. Meanwhile, over the March 2018 quarter, the number of people employed rose by 15,000," he said.

"Our under-utilisation rate also fell, mainly due to previously underemployed people being offered the actual hours they wanted to work. This is a sign of a healthy labour market, in which wages should be rising alongside stronger growth in employment."