New figures show the economy created more 1,000 new jobs a week in the year to the end of August, raising the numbers at work to a record 1.9 million.
The Central Statistics Office's (CSO) Quarterly Household Survey for the months June to August, shows that the number of people working in the Republic grew 57,200, or 3.1 per cent, on the same period last year, to 1.893 million.
The CSO reported that it was the highest level of annual growth in employment since the first quarter of 2001, when the increase was 3.8 per cent.
The figures show that increases in full-time jobs accounted for almost 90 per cent of the annual change. The number of people in full-time jobs increased by 50,500 to 1.58 million in the year to the end of the third quarter, the CSO said.
Over the same 12-month period, the number of people out of work fell by 4,900 to 93,900. Adjusted for seasonal factors, the figure was 86,600, a decrease of around 1,500. The seasonally adjusted rate of unemployment was 4.4 per cent. The un-adjusted rate fell from 5.1 per cent in 2003 to 4.7 per cent this year.
The number of people who were out of work for less than a year (short-term unemployment) dropped by 5,800 to 65,400. However, the ranks of the long-term unemployed (those seeking work for more than a year) swelled by 1,000 to 28,000. The rate of long-term unemployment was unchanged at 1.4 per cent.
The statistics indicate that the Republic has had no difficulty absorbing the increase in its labour force. The number of people in the workforce grew by 52,200 to 1.99 million.
That was made up of 33,000 men and 19,200 women. Participation rates for people aged 45 to 54 grew from 72.3 per cent in 2003 to 75.1 per cent this year, while 78.8 per cent of those aged 20 to 24 were working during the quarter, compared with 77.4 in 2003. Almost 49 per cent of married women were employed during the period, against 48 per cent last year.
According to CSO director Mr Gerry O'Hanlon the building industry delivered the strongest rate of annual growth in job numbers. It added 21,600 to bring its total payroll to 221,700. Services added 14,100 workers to bring its total to 114,400, and the financial and other business services category added 12,500 workers to bring its total to 243,100.
The number of people working in the health service also grew strongly. It employed 182,100 in the quarter, an increase of 10,300 on 2003. Mr O'Hanlon estimated that the public service accounted for two-thirds of those numbers.
At the same time, the more traditional areas of agriculture and manufacturing continued their decline. Agriculture, fisheries and forestry were responsible for a total of 119,900 jobs during the period, down from 121,400 in 2003, and 126,000 a year earlier.
Other production industries, which account for the bulk of the country's manufacturing activities, dipped to 305,600 from 307,700. Employment in hotels and restaurants fell back to its 2002 level of 116,100 from 123,700 last year.