EMPLOYMENT has risen for the first time since 2008 while the numbers out of work have also dropped.
New figures from the Central Statistics Office show some welcome signs of a pick-up in the labour market.
They show that the numbers working increased by 1,200 to 1.848m in the final quarter of 2012.
And the unemployment rate has also fallen and now stands at 14.1pc compared with a high of 15pc this time last year.
Even more importantly long-term unemployment is also falling - the numbers out of work for over a year dropped by nearly 20,000 in the last year to 176,400.
That brings the long-term unemployment rate down from 9.1pc to 8.2pc of the labour force, the Quarterly National Household Survey shows.
Employment fell in the public sector, construction, transport and industry, but rose in agriculture and fishing and in the information and communication sectors.
The seasonally adjusted numbers signing on the Live Register fell by 1,400 in February.
There are now 428,876 people on the dole, down over 10,000 on the same time last year.