Unemployment eased back slightly last month to 14.3%, official figures have revealed.
The report showed the crisis of long-term claimants has deepened, with 183,399 signing on for a year or more - up 23% in the last year.
The Central Statistics Office said the total number on the dole was down by more than 30,000 to 437,441 in September as a significant number of people going back to education came off benefits.
The report also warned that 41.9% of people on the register are long-term claimants.
The CSO's statistical review of the dole highlighted figures based on seasonal changes which showed numbers signing on down 5,400 to 442,200 in September.
The decrease follows four consecutive months of relatively low increases in the seasonally adjusted series.
It also highlighted that the register for September included five weeks which may further influence changes in dole figures.