The Republic’s jobless rate remained steady at 5.3 per cent for the second consecutive month in January.
While there have been several upward revisions to the State’s jobless rate, the overall trend has been downward in keeping with the growth in employment.
The rate for January was the lowest recorded since February 2008 and is almost three points below the euro zone average.
The latest official numbers from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show the seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed fell by 600 between December 2018 and January 2019 to 127,300, and was down 13,400 year on year.
On current trends the State’s jobless rate will fall below 5 per cent this year, a rate which several agencies here equate to full employment.
However, participation rates, particularly for women, remain lower than at the peak of the boom or by international standards.
“ Expectations of unemployment falling below 5 per cent this year will hopefully be met sooner rather than later, but the dark cloud of uncertainty of Brexit looms large as a threat,” Pawel Adrjan, economist at recruitment website Indeed, said.
The Department of Finance recently warned that the unemployment rate could rise by 2 per cent in the event of a no deal Brexit with the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement.
“ This would make it harder for Ireland to absorb the increase in jobseeker interest that has been seen from both the UK and the rest of Europe since the Brexit vote,” Mr Adrjan said.
“Between 2015 and 2018, job searches from the UK as a share of all searches on Indeed.ie have risen by 28 per cent , and they have risen by 32 per cent from the rest of the EU,” he said, suggesting that workers in Britain, fearing the economic impact of Brexit, have been willing to look to Ireland’s growing economy for alternative options.
Separate CSO figures show manufacturing production was nearly 19 per cent lower on an annual basis in December principally on account a decline in the “modern” sector, which is dominated by so-called big pharma companies.