The number of people out of work has risen to 5.7 percent in the three months to December, or 143,000 people, official figures show.
That compares with 5.4 percent unemployed in the previous quarter.
Statistics New Zealand said the growth in employment could not keep up with the record number of people entering the labour force, with participation at an all time high of 69.7 percent.
Employment grew by 1.2 percent, or 28,000, to 2.37 million, with construction in Auckland and Christchurch creating the most jobs.
On an annual basis, the number of people employed increased by 3.5 percent, or 80,000.
Filled jobs rose 2.5 percent with more people working full time and part time.
Wage growth remained subdued, growing 0. 5 percent in the quarter and 1.8 percent for the year.
Inflation is 0.8 percent.
The average hourly wage bill across all jobs rose 2.6 percent to $28.77
Some 59 percent of workers surveyed experienced a pay rise, the highest proportion since March 2009.
While more people had a wage increase, the average size of pay rises fell from 3.3 percent to 3.2 percent for the year.