UNEMPLOYMENT has fallen below 10pc for the first time since the crash, in what has been hailed as a milestone by the Government.
The rate of unemployment stands at 9.9pc as almost two million people are now classified as being in work.
The rate of employment has increased by 2.2pc in the first three months of the year, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
It means that unemployment has reached levels not seen since January 2009.
Overall, there are 212,800 people considered as unemployed – a 45,000 drop on last year.
The long-term unemployment rate dropped from 7.3pc to 5.9pc over the year to the end of March.
Long-term unemployment accounted for 59.8pc of total unemployment in the first three months of the year, compared with 60.5pc a year earlier and 61.8pc in the first quarter of 2013.
The data shows that 10 of the 14 economic sectors are showing jobs growth over the past year, with particularly strong results in construction and industry.
Jobs Minister Richard Bruton branded the data an “important milestone”.
“However, there are still many people around the country who are not feeling the benefits yet, and there is still a long way to go before we can say we have replaced all the jobs that were lost, before we can attract young emigrants home in large numbers, before we can have jobs available for all the unemployed,” Mr Bruton said.
“Today’s news is an important milestone which gives us confidence that the plan is working, but we must keep our eyes on the prize, and continue carefully implementing the policies necessary to deliver sustainable full employment by 2018.”
The quality of the jobs being created is also positive, with fulltime jobs continuing to lead the recovery.
These rose by a 3.6pc year-on-year.