THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE dropped to 8.6% in January as thousands of people left the dole queues during the month.
The latest figures from the CSO, released today, showed the jobless number across the country fell to 186,700 on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The unemployed total was down from 189,700 in December, when the national out-of-work rate stood at 8.8%.
Last month there were 30,500 fewer people officially listed as jobless compared to a year earlier, bringing the unemployment rate down from 10.1% in January 2015.
The youth jobless rate, for those in the workforce aged between 15 and 24, dropped slightly to 19.1%, compared to 19.2% in December and 22.2% a year ago.
CSO figures to November showed 4,844 people remained on the controversial JobBridge scheme, although that total was down from a peak of nearly 7,000 in May 2014.
There were 81,298 people on various activation programmes, compared to only 56,317 in November 2008 – when the official jobless rate was last below its current level.
In a briefing note, Davy economist David McNamara said the bulk of the decline in unemployment over the past year had come among men as the troubled construction industry picked up.
“The outlook for 2016 looks positive. Recent (employer) surveys have pointed to record levels of job creation in the services sector, the biggest employer in the economy,” he said.
The manufacturing and construction sectors also continue to add jobs at a solid pace, and this should continue to yield declines in the male unemployment rate in particular, with former construction workers still the largest cohort on the Live Register.”
And in Europe
Meanwhile, separate figures from Eurostat to December showed the unemployment rate across the EU dropped to 9%, the lowest level since June 2009.
The highest jobless rate recorded was 24.5% in Greece during October, followed by Spain at 20.8% in December. The lowest jobless shares were 4.5% in both the Czech Republic and Germany.