Unemployment figures drop 46,000
Just over a quarter of a million people are unemployed in Ireland as the rate of joblessness continues to slide, latest figures show.
There were 254,500 out of work by the end of June, a drop of 46,000 - or over 15% - compared to the same time last year.
This means 11.5% of the workforce, those old enough and able to work, still have no employment, down from 12% over the year.
Well over half of those who are unemployed (58%) have been out of work for more than a year, although the long-term unemployed figure is dropping slightly.
There has also been an increase in the number of people in employment, with 31,600 more people in jobs at the end of June compared to the same month last year - a 1.7% rise.
Some 1,901,600 people in Ireland are now in employment.
The findings from the Quarterly National Household Survey, released by the Central Statistics Office, show the rise in employment is driven mainly by men returning to the workplace.
Of the 31,600 increase in people in work, some 24,900 were men and 6,700 were women.
The number of men unemployed is also dropping a lot more sharply than for women.
The number of people in work in Ireland remains below the European Union average, while joblessness is higher than the continental average.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the figures point to a continuing recovery in Ireland's employment.
"There are now over 1.9 million people at work," he said.
"This increase is driven by an increase in full-time jobs and there is evidence that people are moving from part-time to full-time work as conditions in the labour market continue to improve."
Mr Noonan said he was particularly encouraged by the range of new jobs, with employment growing in 10 of the 14 industries and sectors surveyed by the CSO.
" We have now had seven consecutive quarters of solid annual employment expansion and we have now seen an increase in employment of over 70,000 since the low point in mid-2012," he said.
"We are now seeing that the difficult decisions taken by this Government over the past few years are bearing fruit."
But Tanaiste and Social Protection Minister Joan Burton admitted too many people remain out of work.
"That is why, in the recent statement of priorities agreed between the Taoiseach and I, our number one priority is to further strengthen the domestic economy and prioritise new jobs for the unemployed," she said.
"The Budget will be a key step in this regard, as we will set out a new capital investment programme which will deliver jobs across the country, and prioritise a range of additional measures, such as increased funding for the very successful JobsPlus scheme, through which we give cash grants to employers who recruit from the Live Register."
Ms Burton said further measures to be brought in by the Budget would include help for low-income families through improved child income supports, allowing recipients to continue to receive payments when moving from welfare into work.
However, union leaders said the Government's claim of an economic recovery is a myth.
Jimmy Kelly, regional secretary of Unite, said there had been a collapse in job creation while earnings were also falling.
"This week's figures confirm what working people have long suspected: recovery is a myth which is not being felt in their pockets," he said.
"On the contrary, just 5,500 jobs were created during the first six month of this year. That amounts to a paltry 212 jobs per week at a time when around 1,500 adults have been emigrating each week.
"And the latest figures show that earnings are continuing to fall."
Mr Kelly said the CSO report confirms economic stagnation and continuing human hardship in Ireland.
"Despite upbeat projections and rhetoric, there is no recovery in people's pockets," he added, calling for economic and social investment on social housing and affordable childcare.