The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the standardised unemployment rate for this month remains unchanged at 14.1pc, as it has been for the past three months.
Chambers Ireland says that this highlights that unemployment is stabilising, though the rate is still too high. “While some measures such as the Action Plan for Jobs 2013, and in particular the incentive scheme for companies to hire people in long term unemployment, represent positive steps towards tackling the high unemployment in this country, these improvements will have limited impact without a sharp increase in domestic demand,” said deputy chief executive Seán Murphy.
“The Government needs to focus on improving consumer confidence and demand by containing taxes and supporting businesses which will create future employment growth,” he added.
Overall, unemployment dropped 6.1pc in 2012, bringing the total number of persons unemployed to 294,600. The long-term unemployment rate decreased from 9.1pc to 8.2pc over the year and this accounted for 59.9pc of total unemployment in Q4 2012, compared with 62.5pc a year earlier.
Davy Research claims the decline in unemployment from a peak of 15pc in Q1 2012 is a reflection of voluntary redundancies in the public sector and continued migration, both of which have contributed to a reduced labour market.
First growth in employment rate in five years
Meanwhile, the rate of employment has demonstrated its first positive annual growth since 2008 last year, albeit a marginal figure at 0.1pc. The upwards growth began in Q3 2012 with a 0.1pc rise, followed by a 0.4pc increase in Q4 2012, marking the first time employment expanded for two quarters in a row since Q1 2008.
Employment in the services sector rose 0.2pc in 2012, with growth concentrated in IT and professional services. This growth helped to offset the cuts to public sector jobs, with employment dropping 4.3pc in this sector.
On the back of this slight upwards trend, Davy continues to forecast a 0.3pc increase in employment this year.