The number of people in work in Northland has hit a record high - but the region's unemployment rate still tops the country.
Northland Regional Council economist Darryl Jones said the apparent contradiction had been caused by population growth.
According to the Household Labourforce survey, Northland's unemployment rate for the quarter was 7.6 percent. The national rate is now below 5 percent.
Mr Jones said despite that, the region's workforce had surged to 75,800 in the past year.
"That's an increase of about 1500 more people working in Northland. That's a really good increase," he said.
There were more people employed in Northland than there had ever been, historically, Mr Jones said, many of them in either tourism or construction.
"Things are looking up, I think."
Northland councils are reporting a building boom, with Whangarei recording new build consents worth $17 million a month - while in the Far North the figure was $23 million.
Mr Jones said the unemployment rate - the numbers of people looking for work but not necessarily on a benefit - remained relatively high because fewer people were leaving the region, but more were returning from Australia and the United Kingdom.
Real estate firms said significant numbers of the new arrivals were also people relocating from Auckland.