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We have less free time

IRISH people have less free time on their hands than ever before, despite a massive jump in unemployment figures.

A new survey has outlined that the majority of people have between one and four hours which are not work-related per day. According to the JCI Ireland survey, 70pc said they prefer to use their downtime to develop business potential and networking skills.

Although levels of unemployment remain above 432,000, 57pc of people said that they have less leisure time than they did 12 months ago. Only 68pc of those questioned confirmed that they were in full-time employment.

Mark Kelly, president of Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ireland, the leadership development organisation for young people, said that it is a reflection of the mood of the nation.

"With the downturn in the jobs market, we are all maximising our free time for personal development," he said. "It is encouraging that so few people are willing to rest on their laurels."

Unemployment dropped last month for the first time since September as the number of people signing on the dole fell by more than 2,000.

Fine Gael enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said the drop in the Live Register was clearly linked to the declining construction sector.

"Ireland is once again raising its young people for export. The apparent stability in the Live Register is actually due to unemployed people leaving the country," he said.