THE number of people employed by IDA-supported multinationals in Ireland jumped last year to its highest level since the crash.
Total employment in IDA-supported companies stood at 152,785 last year, up from 146,215 in 2011. The jump in jobs came as fewer jobs were lost and companies continued to create employment at levels close to previous years.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the results demonstrated that international confidence had returned to Ireland.
"Some of the most ambitious and dynamic companies in the world are picking Ireland as the best location to deliver their innovative services," Mr Bruton said.
Key figures from the IDA include:
• 145 individual investments were recorded last year, with 66 from companies coming to Ireland for the first time.
• About 80pc of the job losses that hit IDA companies in the crash have been recovered.
While the headline figure was stronger than at any time since the crash began in 2008, the number of jobs created in 2012 fell fractionally to 12,722, according to the end-of-year results from the IDA.
This was offset by the number of job losses in the sector falling to their lowest level in a decade at 6,152, meaning the net job creation was 6,570.
About 4,000 of these were in the ICT/technology sector.
However, the figures account for jobs agreed between the companies and the IDA, and do not necessarily mean that all the positions were filled by the end of last year.
Mr Bruton hailed what he claimed was a strong performance from the technology sector, which accounted for the bulk of the jobs. Other growth sectors included social and digital media, international financial services, pharmaceutical and medical devices.
IDA chief executive Barry O'Leary said he was confident of meeting similar jobs targets next year, despite the global challenges.
"Key global markets are slowing down, particularly in Europe, which is a key focus for the IDA's existing and potential clients," Mr O'Leary said.
"However, there are definite opportunities for growth in the IT and technology sector, in specific areas of financial services, in life sciences, in social and digital media and in sectors where consolidation is taking place on a pan-European basis."
The IDA has set itself the target of creating 62,000 new jobs in the four years between 2010 and 2014.
Mr O'Leary said there were large-scale projects in the pipeline to be won, but Ireland faced stiff competition.
Meanwhile, Mr Bruton staunchly defended the Government's 12.5pc corporation tax rate amid the debate in the UK and US concerning the taxes paid by multinationals.
Mr Bruton described the tax rate as "strategically important to Irish economic recovery", and claimed Ireland had a clear and transparent tax strategy.
"The scrutiny of corporate tax that's occurring in other countries would be mis-placed in Ireland," Mr Bruton said.
"International evidence shows that the effective tax rate in Ireland is 11.9pc, very close to the nominal rate of 12.5pc.
"In other countries you have specially tailored tax regimes for individual projects. So the effective rate is dramatically lower than the nominal rate."
Analysis: Page 30