Months after lockdown, jobseeker numbers in Taranaki remain stubbornly high with the young, Māori and women particularly hard hit.
But business representatives say there are signs things are starting to change for the better.
At the end of August, 3397 work-ready jobseekers were registered with the Ministry for Social Development in Taranaki compared to 2313 a year earlier - a 46.8 percent increase.
That represents 6.7 percent of the working population.
To combat this the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce has set up a hub linking employers with jobseekers.
Chief executive Arun Chaudhari said it was already making a big difference.
"Here's a list I have just from this morning, 24 jobs to be filled in just various sectors from builders, programme co-ordinators, project managers, procurement managers, electricians and so on."
Chaudhari said the region's economy had also picked up as alert levels were relaxed.
"Slowly things have been coming back especially school holidays is when people have been travelling, they've been spending.
"And when people have been spending it's been generating more employment because all the travel industry and affiliated businesses like cafes and motels, hotels are obviously employing more people."
One of those hoping to benefit from that work is Jordan Lawson.
In March, he had a building apprenticeship all lined up - and then lockdown hit.
"And then when the lockdown ended the investor the builder was working with, because of Covid and the uncertainty, said he couldn't commit to the two-and-a-half years work, so I wasn't able to start the apprenticeship even after the lockdown.
"So yeah, I was really gutted about that."
Now he has been picked up by another company and has been competing at the Taranaki Trades Apprentice Safety Challenge.
"I was able to join with Naki Labour Hire and Adecco and I was looking for construction-related jobs because I was interested in becoming a licensed builder. It was really nice that Southcoast Construction came along and offered me an employment opportunity and eventually an apprenticeship."
Evan Miller was a welder in the oil and gas industry.
During lockdown he had no work and with time on his hands he decided to reassess his career.
Now the 43 year old is also doing a building apprenticeship.
"It's just something that's always interested me, having carpentry experience for ourselves round at home as well as helping mates, and it offers an opportunity to work for yourself later on.
"Engineering's been kind to us so we're in a good position and this is a bit more family-orientated with healthier lifestyle working outdoors."
Whitaker Civil Engineering managing director Frances Boyce coordinates one of the Taranaki Trades Apprentice Safety Challenges and she too is seeing an improvement in the job market.
"Obviously post Covid, being in construction, we are looking towards those shovel-ready projects and we know in our organisation that we transition people into jobs because there are jobs out there waiting for them."
But the picture is not so rosy for Māori, who made up about 40 percent of total work-ready jobseekers in Taranaki, or for 18 to 24 year olds, whose jobseeker numbers shot up 48 percent in the year to June.
Women were also finding it tough, like teacher aide Lisa Glavey.
"I didn't get a job I was supposed to get because of lockdown and having a cold and not being able to go into the job straightaway.
"They had to give it to someone else, and there hasn't been any work that I've been able to find so far."
Female jobseeker numbers in Taranaki were up 30 percent over the same period.
But Chaudhari pointed to a completely different employment problem looming for Taranaki.
"We've got Project Maunga, which is the hospital rebuild, 440 jobs to be filled there, and we've got other infrastructure projects coming on like the Yarrow Stadium rebuild and State Highway 3.
"So there's actually going to be more jobs than we can find the right people for and that's going to be our biggest challenge finding the right people for these jobs."
The Ministry of Social Development will publish its September quarter jobseeker data next week.