Jacinda Ardern says low joblessness shows New Zealand survived COVID-19 'better than anticipated' - but travel industry calling for help

The Prime Minister says the latest unemployment figures show New Zealand survived the COVID-19 pandemic "better than anticipated", but one industry is still calling out for help.

Numbers released on Wednesday show unemployment fell to 4 percent from 4.2 percent the previous quarter, according to Statistics NZ.

But some in the travel industry fear more jobs will be lost in its sector.

"Business owners are going to have to make some hard decisions," Brent Thomas from House of Travel says.

The workforce has already cut about 2500 jobs, which hasn't come easy for those in the industry.

"It's really hard to say goodbye to not only work colleagues, but they are really friends," Thomas says.

However, the 4 percent unemployment rate only counts those actively looking for work - many people couldn't do that over lockdown.

Instead the measure of underutilisation, which takes into account unemployment and underemployment - people who could or want to be working more - is up 12 percent on the last quarter.

Jacinda Ardern says the figures show the COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been as bad as expected.

"It does give us an indication that we have weathered this storm better than we anticipated, but it is not over."

Economist Brad Olsen says he was "quite surprised" at the low numbers, but New Zealanders are still doing it tough when it comes to employment.

"Let's be absolutely clear, they have lost jobs, there are fewer people working, there are less hours being worked. That means that Kiwi households are in a much tougher position."

With the Government's wage subsidy scheme ending in September, which is still propping up 450,000 jobs, industries are lining up to see what help is coming next.

"It's quite an emotional time. It's likely that there'll be further unemployment in our industry unless we get assistance from the Government," Thomas says.

In terms of the travel industry, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says it's difficult to give specific sectors their own financial aid packages.

"There are a number of sectors in the economy where there is a strong impact [from the pandemic]."

National leader Judith Collins is urging the Government to have a plan once the wage subsidy ends.

"They're really worried that they're going to lose their jobs when the wage subsidy comes off. It is utterly irresponsible of a Government to have been paying out the wage subsidy without a plan for what happens when that comes off."