THE economy is now close to full employment as the jobless rate slumped to just 4.4pc.
This is a sharp fall from the height of the recession when it hit almost16pc.
The Central Statistics Office’s latest figures show the unemployment rate stood at 4.4pc last month, down from 4.6pc in April.
It was 5.6pc in May last year.
This means there are now 108,200 people out of work – a fall of 33,200 compared to the same month last year.
Economist Alan McQuaid said we are as close to full employment as possible.
He said full employment is generally around the 4pc mark – but 0pc is never reached because there are always people between jobs.
“We are almost back to Celtic Tiger levels of employment and the numbers are holding up remarkably well despite Brexit,” he said.
“The rate today is more than 11.5pc below peak unemployment during the recession and is lower than the 7.6pc Eurozone average.
“We had a very strong labour force survey recently showing there were 2.3 million people at work and the number of jobs created is likely to be over 70,000 and even higher than last year.”
He noted that youth unemployment has fallen to 10pc, down from 10.3pc the previous month.
However, he sounded a note of caution as an AIB manufacturing survey this week showed growth could be weaker in the second half of the year.
But he said he believes the numbers unemployed will continue to fall.
He noted that full employment has implications for employers in terms of finding enough staff.
Mr McQuaid said that measures need to be taken including adequate childcare to attract more women back to the workforce as the overall portion of the population at work could be improved.