Almost 9,000 jobs were created by the state's enterprise development agencies last year.
Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, revealed the total permanent employment rose to 294,785, an increase of 8,975 or 3.1% on 2011.
The report by Forfas showed job losses of 17,030 at a 10-year low while job creation fell to 26,005, a decline of 4.4% on the 2011 figure.
"The complete figures for 2012 published by Forfas tally with other data we have seen on job-creation, and show that last year saw extremely strong jobs growth in a very challenging global environment, as well as the lowest level of job losses in over a decade," the minister said.
Mr Bruton said the figures continue the trend of positive growth in employment following three consecutive years of losses between 2007 and 2010.
The annual employment survey said the jobs were created by the four development agencies, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Shannon Development and Udaras na Gaeltachta.
The report said job totals for Irish-owned companies was 144,964, up 3,228. Foreign-owned firms had 149,821 full-timers on their books, up 5,747.