Long-term unemployment rate highest in 20 years
The number of people languishing on the dole for more than 12 months is at its highest in 20 years.
Official figures revealed the long-term unemployed accounted for more than half of the 299,000 people out of work at the end of 2010 - up from a third a year earlier.
Almost 154,000 had been signing on for benefits for more than a year, with the newly unemployed accounting for 143,000.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also raised its estimate for the latest unemployment rate by more than 1pc to 14.6pc.
"Long-term unemployment now accounts for 51.5pc of total unemployment," it stated.
"This is the first occasion that long-term unemployment has accounted for more than 50pc of unemployment since the late 1990s."
The quarterly national household survey for 2010 showed the number of people in work fell by 64,500 (3.4pc) to 1.8 million, compared with an annual drop of of 8.1pc a year earlier.
Unemployment increased by 31,600 or 11.8pc over the year, with the greatest loss of jobs in the construction sector.