New figures show the recession increased productivity among workers to its highest level in a decade.
Labour productivity rose 3.7% in the year to March 2010.
Productivity measures how much a worker produces for a given hour of work, and is a critical determinant of how quickly an economy can grow and how fast wages can rise.
Statistics New Zealand says production fell 0.8% in the year to the end of March, but was less than the fall in hours worked.
Fewer hours worked increased the availability of equipment to workers, boosting productivity by 2.1%.
The improvement helped pull up New Zealand's recent productivity performance, which has lagged behind other OECD countries and has deteriorated in recent times.
Labour productivity rose 0.9% per year between 2006 and 2010, compared to a 2% annual increase between 1978 and 2010.