THE Government was urged to reassess its jobs strategy after the unemployment rate rose to 14.4pc.
Official figures revealed the long-term unemployed accounted for 56.3pc of those out of work between July and September, with 177,200 people lingering on the dole queue for more than a year.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) said unemployment rose by 15,700 over the previous year to the third quarter, to 314,700.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said a major investment and job creation programme was urgently needed to combat rising unemployment.
Congress chief economist Paul Sweeney said Government had to focus all its energy on getting people back to work.
"We urgently need a major new jobs plan from Government," he said.
"The continued imposition of austerity is decimating the economy and the recent Budget will only serve to make the situation worse. It will cost us more jobs."
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, called on the Government to reassess its jobs plan by putting emphasis on supporting enterprise and job creation.
Chief executive Mark Fielding said: "The recent Budget was lauded by Government as a Budget for jobs, it was anything but.
"Increasing costs to business through VAT, motor and carbon taxes and reducing the redundancy rebate sends out the wrong message to the employment creating enterprise sector.
"Businesses are now forced to look at ways to reduce costs even more, with remaining employment an obvious target."
The CSO said the total number of people in the labour force was over 2.1 million in the third quarter of 2011 - down 30,200 over the year - with the total at work down 46,000 to 1.8 million.
The number of unemployed included 206,200 men and 108,600 women. It is the first time the number of women out of work rose above 100,000 since CSO figures began in 1998.
Business group IBEC said the latest Quarterly National Household Survey highlighted the urgent need to deliver reform.
Reetta Suonpera, IBEC's senior economist, said: "Rising long-term unemployment and falling labour market participation means that Government must urgently deliver on reform of the employment services to help people get back into work and prevent the current high level of unemployment from becoming entrenched."