Unemployment rate falls in fourth quarter 2010
New figures show the unemployment rate decreased from 14.8pc to 14pc between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first of 2011.
But the number of people in long-term unemployment, for over a year, continues to grow and now accounts for 55pc of those out of work.
According to Central Statistics Office (CSO) statistics, the number of people unemployed fell by 21,900 from to just under 296,000 over the three- month seasonally adjusted period.
The CSO, in its quarterly national household survey, said the fall in the unemployment rate partly reverses the big hike recorded between the third and fourth quarters of last year.
In that period the unemployment rate rose from 13.5pc to 14.8pc.
But it says the number of people unemployed has remained relatively stable over recent quarters.
The figures show that just over 1.8 million people were at work in the first three months of the year, down 53,400 compared with the same period last year.
The CSO said the 2.9pc drop was the smallest since 2008.
However, economists questioned the reliability of the seasonally-adjusted figures.
“In our opinion the sharp movements in the seasonally-adjusted jobless rate over the past two quarters give a very misleading view of the Irish labour market and economic activity in general, and a question needs to be asked about the reliability of the seasonally-adjusted mechanism,” said Bloxham Stockbrokers chief economist Alan McQuaid.
“The unadjusted unemployment rate held steady at 14.1pc in the opening quarter, and that is probably a better reflection of recent labour market performance,” he added. “That said, the unchanged rate over the quarter was more down to a lower labour market participation rate and increased emigration than increased job opportunities.”