Unemployed total falls to 12.1%
Unemployment has fallen to 12.1%, official figures have revealed.
As the Government detailed its latest plans to drive job creation, a report said the number of people out of work decreased last year by 41,400.
According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), 253,200 are unemployed, with the numbers in work up 61,000 to 1,909,800 by the end of last year .
The figures from the quarterly national household survey were released as Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched the 2014 Action Plan For Jobs, which will focus on entrepreneurs and foreign direct investment.
Under the scheme, an X-Factor style competition is to be held to find the best entrepreneur in each county in the country.
Mr Kenny said he expects Ireland's unemployment level will very soon come down to the European average - 12% last December.
The CSO figures showed the rate in Ireland came down from 12.7% to 12.1% at the end of last year with the rate for the long-term unemployed - those out of work for a year or more - down 1% to 7.2% during 2013.
They make up 61% of the total out of work.
The Taoiseach said: "We recognise there are too many people around the country who have not seen a creeping confidence coming back to the economy."
Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the CSO figures show Government policy is working.
"We want employers in Ireland to follow the example of their counterparts in countries like Germany and Austria and be willing to give, not alone young jobseekers, but also long-term unemployed people work, training and apprenticeship opportunities," she said.
Ms Burton said the Government was on track to get unemployment down below 10% by 2016.
She said the number of people at work has risen by 70,000 and the pledge to create 100,000 new jobs by 2016 is well on track.
As part of the Government's plan on jobs, investment body IDA Ireland has targeted 6,000 new jobs directly and plans to work to win another 155 new foreign direct investment project, a fifth of which will be from growth markets.
It said another 4,000 jobs could be created as an indirect result of foreign companies hiring here.
IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary said: "There are now over 166,000 people working in IDA client companies - the highest level in the history of IDA Ireland.
"We are glad that the work of IDA Ireland has been recognised by the addition of extra resources.
"Put simply, having 35 jobs for our global operations will enable us to get in front of more companies and convince them to locate their business in Ireland."