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90,000 have now been on the dole for year or more

ALMOST 90,000 people in Ireland have remained on the dole queue for more than a year.

The Central Statistics Office said that the long-term unemployed now make up one-third of total unemployment, compared with just over a fifth a year earlier.

The overall unemployment rate in the final three months of last year moved up to 13.1pc, compared with 12.5pc in the previous quarter.

More than 267,000 people were unemployed at the end of the year, up almost 98,000 on an annual basis. Since the recession began, 250,000 jobs had been lost.

The CSO's quarterly national household survey also shows that the number of people in the labour force continued to fall, dropping 3pc over the year.

The figures also show that the drop in full-time employment has been concentrated in the construction, manufacturing and the retail and wholesale sectors. Unemployment is now at its highest level since 1995, with more than one in eight officially out of work.

The number of non-Irish people in the labour force fell by 33,600 or 10pc over the year, compared with a fall of 1.9pc for Irish people. Some 255,200 non-Irish people were in work, while 47,900 were unemployed.

Fine Gael deputy leader Richard Bruton said that the Government's policy of cutting investment and raising taxes would only drive more people out of work. "Brian Cowen's reshuffle was a golden opportunity to refocus this dismal government on job creation and economic recovery. It has failed," he said.

Labour Party deputy leader Joan Burton said that there needed to be a "laser-like" focus on the jobs crisis.

However, unemployment was much lower among people with a third-level honours degree at 6.1pc, rising to 8.6pc for people with a pass degree, 13.6pc for those with only a Leaving Cert and 18.7pc for those with only primary education.

The percentage of 20-24-year-olds who participate in the workforce has fallen from 77.4pc in mid-2008 to 69.5pc in the final quarter of 2009.

Economists said the Quarterly National Household Survey, which gives a more comprehensive picture of the jobs market, suggested that "the progress that was made was pretty minor".

Compared to the previous quarter, there was a fall in short-term unemployment -- the first such fall in two years.