Jobless rate sees biggest drop in six months
THE unemployment rate dropped to 8.6pc in January, marking the biggest decline in jobless figures for six months.
The seasonally adjusted rate was down from 8.8pc in December 2015, according to new figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) .
The number of people unemployed fell to 186,700 in January, which represents a decrease of 3,000 people when compared to December.
And the figures show a stark contrast to January 2015, when the rate stood at 10.1pc.
There are 30,500 fewer people unemployed than during the same month last year.
Tánaiste Joan Burton claimed it was evidence of a 'jobs-led' recovery.
"Unemployment has fallen from a crisis peak of 15.1pc to 8.6pc now.
"Behind every new job, every return to work, is a person or family benefitting from the recovery in their own lives," the Tánaiste said.
Unemployment amongst males was down to 9.8pc, a drop of 0.2 percentage points from the previous month and down considerably from the rate of 10pc in January 2015.
Meanwhile, the female unemployment rate also fell, down from 7.3pc in December to 7.2pc.
Youth unemployment (those aged between 15 and 24) also fell, down to 19.1pc, from 19.2pc in December of last year.
Economist with Merrion Stockbrokers Alan McQuaid said: "Government's spending plans on both the current and capital side will help to further boost employment and reduce the numbers out of work.
"However, labour supply has begun to increase in response to the improved economic situation, and this has to some degree slowed down the decline in the jobless rate," Mr McQuaid said.
Merrion believes that the average jobless rate for this year could be 8.3pc, down from the average of 9.4pc last year.
The Department of Finance is suggesting that all of the jobs that were lost during the economic recession will be replaced by 2018 and that the country will have two million people in employment this year.