The Republic’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 4.8 per cent in December, with economists predicting another strong year of employment growth.
Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures show the number of workers classified as unemployed last month was 119,000.
This compares to 356,600 or 16 per cent in February 2012, when the economy was mired in recession. The headline rate of 4.8 per cent was the lowest recorded since January 2007. It is also nearly three percentage points lower than the euro zone average of 7.5 per cent.
The State’s youth unemployment rate was put at 12.6 per cent in December, up from 12.5 per cent in November.
"Ireland's labour market has started the year in broadly the same mood as it ended last year," said Andrew Webb, chief economist at Grant Thornton Ireland.
“Although there was a slight increase in the number of people unemployed, the overall unemployment rate remained unchanged between November and December.”
Pawel Adrjan, economist with recruitment website Indeed, said: "Notwithstanding the pause for breath in December, the Irish labour market ended the year in an extremely strong position, with no indication that the employment boom is set to slow in 2020."
However, he warned that the downside risk of Brexit remained given the strength of Ireland’s trading relationships with the UK. “The UK government’s apparent resolution to agree a final deal to exit the EU in just 11 months may make it hard to agree a Brexit deal given the complexities involved.”
He said “a key challenge” remained finding workers for open vacancies, noting that many high-skilled roles in healthcare, finance and engineering suffered from a dearth of talent relative to high demand from employers.