Long-term jobless at 20-year high
The number of people languishing on the dole for more than 12 months is at its highest in 20 years.
Official figures revealed the long-term unemployed accounted for more than half of the 299,000 people out of work at the end of 2010 - up from a third a year earlier.
Almost 154,000 had been signing on for benefits for more than a year, with the newly unemployed accounting for 143,000.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) also raised its estimate for the latest unemployment rate by more than 1% to 14.6%.
"Long-term unemployment now accounts for 51.5% of total unemployment," it stated.
"This is the first occasion that long-term unemployment has accounted for more than 50% of unemployment since the late 1990s."
The quarterly national household survey for 2010 showed the number of people in work fell by 64,500 (3.4%) to 1.8 million, compared with an annual drop of 8.1% a year earlier.
Unemployment increased by 31,600 or 11.8% over the year, with the greatest loss of jobs in the construction sector.