The number of people out of work fell by almost 20,000 last year, taking the unemployment rate to 14.2%, official figures have revealed.
While 428,876 people were recorded signing on the dole in February, a year-end survey of the labour market put the total amount of people unemployed at 294,600.
Both reports were from the Central Statistics Office and both recorded the unemployment rate at just over 14%.
The Live register, which records the numbers seeking benefits including those who are also working, said its total figure fell by 10,546 over the course of last year.
However, the issue of long-term unemployment remains at crisis levels with 189,467 people signing on for at least one year.
The labour market survey, known as the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), found that the numbers employed increased during 2012.
The figure was up 0.1% or 1,200 in the 12 months, bringing the total to 1,848,900. The CSO said this was the first annual increase in employment since the second quarter of 2008.
Mark Fielding, chief executive of business group Isme, said the real plight of the country is being masked by massive youth emigration.
"And there is no doubt that the social welfare system and the black economy are still two inhibitors of employment and, to date, Government action in tackling both has lacked bite," he said.
Central Statistics Office figures show that 87,000 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2012, including 46,500 Irish nationals. Estimated figures for the year had put it up as high as 75,000.