(Bloomberg) -- New Zealand’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell in the first quarter as the economy’s recovery boosted business confidence and hiring.

The jobless rate fell to 4.7% from 4.9% in the fourth quarter, Statistics New Zealand said Wednesday in Wellington. Economists expected 4.9%. Employment rose 0.6% from the previous three months, twice the 0.3% median forecast.

New Zealand business confidence rebounded in late 2020 after a V-shaped economic recovery, encouraging firms to hire more workers. While the jobless rate never hit the highs feared when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit, it is well short of the 4% levels attained in 2019. This adds to signs that the central bank will want to keep providing stimulus to the economy for some time.

The kiwi dollar jumped after the report. It bought 71.67 U.S. cents at 10:56 a.m. in Wellington from 71.50 cents immediately before the release.

The Reserve Bank, which is required to support maximum employment as well as stable inflation, has said it will require considerable time and patience to deliver those objectives. A few economists see scope for higher rates in 2022 but the consensus is the official cash rate will stay at a record low 0.25% until 2023.

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