MORE than 10,000 fewer people are signing on the dole this month than there were a year ago.
There are now 429,396 people on the Live Register, down from 439,589 a year ago.
And on a seasonally adjusted basis, the numbers on the dole fell by 900 in January compared to December 2012.
That was the seventh month in a row that the seasonally adjusted numbers on the Live Register fell.
Male unemployment is falling faster than female, however, as the number of women signing on actually rose in January.
And long-term unemployment continued to rise with 190,000, or 44pc of the total, out of work for over a year.
The number of people under 25 on the Live Register continued to fall faster than the number of older people.
There are also another 83,470 people on various government back-to-work schemes such as the JobBridge internship programme and Fas courses.
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said the stagnant Live Register showed that the economy had "gone to the dogs" for lack of economic planning.
"The truth of the matter is that the current administration is at sixes and sevens when it comes to addressing unemployment, relying on the 'emigration safety valve' and some half-baked community 'employment' schemes to keep the dole queues down," said ISME chief executive Mark Fielding.
Davy Stockbrokers said the number of long-term unemployment claimants was "still worryingly high" but the rate of growth had slowed considerably from 12pc a year ago to 3pc now.
"The biggest falls in employment in 2012 were largely attributable to public sector cuts, which should abate in 2013 – providing less of a drag on employment growth," said Davy analyst David McNamara.
Merrion Stockbrokers said the latest figures were positive news for the labour market.
"However, increased emigration and people staying on longer in education are clearly factors that have contributed to the recent drop," said Merrion economist Alan McQuaid.
He predicted that the jobless rate would fall back to 14.3pc this year.