Finance Minister Grant Robertson could barely contain his joy in the House today, following news New Zealand's unemployment rate had fallen to an 11-year low.

But National is not convinced the data is as rosy as Robertson claims it to be, pointing out that the number of Kiwis on the jobseekers benefit continues to climb.

Statistics New Zealand this morning revealed the number of jobless in New Zealand had fallen to 3.9 per cent – the lowest level since 2008.

The drop is despite economists expecting the unemployment rate would actually rise to 4.4 per cent.

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Speaking in the House this afternoon, Robertson said the data showed the Government's economic plan is delivering more jobs and creating a strong underlying economy at a time where there are strong global headwinds.

"The Government's economic plan focuses on making sure that everyone shares in our economic success – today's figures show we are delivering a more inclusive economy that raises the living standard of all New Zealanders."

Stats NZ's numbers showed that both public and private sector wages were up by 2.2 per cent, year-on-year.

Robertson said this showed that the Government's decision to raise the minimum wage was the right thing to do.

But National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith said it was hard to reconcile the drop in unemployment with the increase in people on the jobseekers benefit.

National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith pointed out that Stats NZ figures do show that fewer people are looking for work. Photo / Mark Mitchell
National's finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith pointed out that Stats NZ figures do show that fewer people are looking for work. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In the year to June, an extra 14,000 people claimed the benefit.

He said New Zealand's unemployment rate does bounce around, but the jobseeker numbers were "real numbers".

Goldsmith pointed out that Stats NZ figures do show that fewer people are looking for work.

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He said this was a hard thing for the Government to be able to justify.
"It's a total contradiction."

Meanwhile, the NZX – New Zealand's stock market – was off by just under 2 per cent amid further trade tension between the US and China.

"China dropped the price of their currency to an almost a historic low. It's called 'currency manipulation'," US Present Donald Trump tweeted.

"Are you listening to [sic] Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time!"

Asked about the new development, Robertson said he had not yet been briefed on the issue.