Number on dole falls by 30,000 in a year
Unemployment is continuing to fall with the numbers signing on the Live Register dropping by nearly 30,000 in the last year.
The unemployment rate has now fallen to 12.3pc from 13.9pc a year ago and a recession high of 15.1pc in February 2012.
The latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show that the numbers signing on fell by 2,300 in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, bringing the total to 400,700. This is the lowest level since May 2009.
This was also the 19th month in a row where there has been a decrease in the numbers claiming unemployment benefits.
In unadjusted terms, there were just under 400,000 people on the Live Register in January, which is 29,766 fewer than a year earlier.
Reacting to the figures, the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association warned that the fragile growth must not be undermined by wage increases.
"The emphasis must be on getting people back to work rather than mad-cap demands for wage increases from the strangest of bedfellows, bankers and trade unions," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
"To even mention wage increases less than two months after the departure of the troika shows at best an ignorance of real economics and at worst a selfish me-fein attitude last seen in the bubble years."
Merrion stockbrokers economist Alan McQuaid said the unemployment rate was the key indicator of the economy and steady progress was being made in bringing it down.
"While emigration has been a contributory factor in bringing down the numbers on the Live Register over the past year and a half, there is clear evidence that there is more to it than that," he said.
However, it wasn't all good news as the number of long-term unemployment claimants rose by over 1,700 to 181,326, though it's still over 10,000 fewer than a year ago.
The CSO data also shows that in addition to those signing on the Live Register, another 86,172 were on various government back-to-work and training schemes.
This was 2,700 more than a year earlier.
Meanwhile, new Eurostat figures show Ireland was one of the few countries in Europe where retail sales grew in December.
Irish sales were up 1.4pc in the month, compared with an EU-wide drop of 0.8pc.