South Canterbury is bucking the trend with 5.2 per cent unemployment, while nationally it is the highest it has been for 13 years at 7.3 per cent.
Figures from the Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey for the September quarter show nationwide the highest rate is in Northland, with 10 per cent, while the lowest was recorded in the Otago region with 5 per cent.
Following the announcement of the national figure, trade unions said there was a "national crisis" in jobs.
South Canterbury has 29,600 people employed and 1600 unemployed, giving the region an unemployment rate of 5.2 per cent. For the Timaru District unemployment was 5.9 per cent, with 17,100 people employed in Timaru and 1100 unemployed.
Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith was not surprised by the low rate.
"It just follows the upward trend we are experiencing. It is on the back of a strong agricultural sector, [which] has allowed us to perform strongly.
"You can also see the confidence in the district with the development occurring and the projects going ahead."
Two weeks ago employment agencies reported they had noticed the squeeze on the market, with many clients snapped up.
Stafford Personnel recruitment consultant Daphne Edwards said the firm was "really struggling to find suitable people for work".
Finding drivers and labourers was particularly difficult, she said.
Personnel Placement recruitment consultant Jackie Clark said trades were particularly difficult to recruit for.
"We are always keen to hear from any qualified carpenters or plumbers. A lot of people have moved out of the area too, possibly to Christchurch, which has put pressure on."
According to Statistics New Zealand there was a 1.8 percentage-point rise in the Auckland unemployment rate, which reached 8.6 per cent.
In Canterbury, in the year to September 2012, the unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 5.2 per cent, acting government statistician Cathryn Ashley-Jones said.
Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway said the jump in the unemployment rate showed the Government "needs to act on jobs now".
"This is a national crisis," he said. Fairfax
- The Timaru Herald