Jobless figures drop to their lowest level in over six years
UNEMPLOYMENT figures have dropped to their lowest level in more than six years after a 4,700 decrease in the number of people who joined the live register last month.
The latest figures from the CSO show the numbers signing on have fallen for the 40th month in a row and the standardised unemployment rate is now 10pc, down marginally on the 10.1pc posted in February.
The last time the figure dipped below 10pc was in February 2009 when it was at 9.5pc.
According to seasonally adjusted figures, there are now 350,600 people out of work, which is down from the 396,000 who were on the live register this time last year.
The figure to the end of February this year was 355,300.
In unadjusted figures, there were 348,676 on the register, which represents a 42,556 drop from March 2014.
All eight regions have also posted annual decreases in the numbers on the live register, with the mid-west region down 13.1pc, followed by the Dublin region down 11.8pc and the west and south-west falling by 10.8pc. Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said every job created was "a life back on track" but the goal remained to return to full employment by 2018.
"There are still far too many people unemployed, far too many families who have still not felt the benefit of the fragile recovery which is under way," he said.
The figures show males returning to the workforce accounted for the greatest drop in the numbers signing on.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, the live register showed a monthly decrease of 2,900 males last month and a drop of 31,154 in the year to March 2015.
Unemployment levels among females decreased by 1,900 for the month and 11,402 for the year up to last month.
There was also welcome news on long-term unemployment, with an annual decrease of 18,932 (10.6pc). This means there were 160,403 long-term unemployed people on the register last month.
There are 71,404 casual and part-time workers on the register, representing 20.5pc of the total number unemployed.
This is a drop of 751 on the previous month and a decrease of 8,407 on 12 months ago.
There was also a decrease in unemployment levels among those aged 25 or under which continues an unbroken trend that stretches back to July 2010.
The percentage of people aged under 25 on the live register now stands at 13.5pc for March 2015, down from 15.0pc in the corresponding month last year and 15.7pc in March 2013.
Over-25s dropped by 30,734 (9.2pc) in the year to March 2015.
The figures come as trade unions continue to call for wage increases for workers across the economy as the pace of the recovery picks up.
However, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprise Association (ISME) last night warned against such increases in either the public or private sector.
Chief executive Mark Fielding said the rate of job growth would be even greater if the Government "adopted a real enterprise focus rather than making populist wage calls".
"Consumer confidence will be restored through increased jobs. Jobs will be created when costs are addressed," he said.