THE number of people signing on for more than a year has risen in excess of 6,000 despite a Government promise to slash long-term unemployment figures.
New data reveal that the number of long-term unemployed rose by 3.5pc or 6,346 last year, bringing their numbers to 187,144.
This is despite the Government's commitment in its Pathways to Work plan to ensure that more than 75,000 of the long-term unemployed get jobs by 2015.
Although the Government's strategy is not working yet, the official statistics show that the total number of people out of work is stabilising.
The number of unemployed seeking assistance fell by 1,400 last month, bringing the seasonally adjusted dole queue down to 430,900.
There was a drop of 2.5pc or 11,051 dole claimants during the year, while the standardised unemployment rate also fell slightly to 14.6pc.
The number of men out of work dropped by 1,800 in December, but the number of women seeking assistance rose by 400.
Likewise, the number of women joining the ranks of the long-term unemployed is rising faster than men.
The number of men out of work increased by 1,089, or 0.8pc in the year, but the number of women soared by 10.6pc, or 5,257. The Government's jobs plan, launched last year, focused on getting the long-term unemployed off the dole.
It claimed that, based on current trends, the numbers of long-term unemployed will, in the absence of concerted action, "increase inexorably" to more than 200,000.
"Clearly this is unacceptable," it said.
The Central Statistics Office said that the trend in the overall Live Register continued to be one of movement "within a small range". It said annual decreases in the number signing on were recorded in all months of 2012.
The number of over-25s dropped by 1pc, but the number of under-25s fell by 10pc.
Under-25s now make up almost 16pc of the Live Register numbers, down from almost 19pc in 2010.
Chambers Ireland said that Ireland was "slowly but steadily" on the road to recovery, following a drop of 0.3pc in the 14.6pc standardised unemployment rate during the year.
SIPTU economist Marie Sherlock welcomed the figures but warned that they hid the impact of emigration, as almost 8,000 craft workers left the country last year.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said that long-term unemployed must be a priority.
It urged the Government to reveal its promised Plus One jobs initiative, announced on Budget day, which it said was "like the third secret of Fatima".