Almost half of Ireland's unemployed have been out of work for more than a year, official figures show.

Despite the rate of job losses slowing in the 12 months prior to September, the lack of employment growth means the percentage of those, who are considered long-term unemployed, has continued to grow rapidly.

Fine Gael Enterprise Jobs & Economic Planning spokesman Richard Bruton said the new figures were a "a bitter disappointment."

"The long-term unemployment rate at 6.5pc of the workforce is five times what it was at the end of 2007," he told the Irish Independent.

Brid O'Brien of the Irish National Organization for the Unemployed said that the Government's recovery plan represented little hope for the jobless.

"The 90,000 jobs target over the four-year National Recovery Plan period doesn't amount to even a prospect of a job for those currently long-term unemployed, let alone anyone else who will be looking for work," she said.

During the last quarter, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reported that the increase in new unemployment stood at just over 5,000 and the number of people at work fell by over 7,000.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Bloxham Stockbrokers, said that increased emigration was a factor in decreasing employment rates.

"Increased emigration will be a key factor in limiting the rise in the unemployment rate," he said.

"Because of that, we don't see it going much above 13.5pc next year, despite the severe fiscal austerity," he added.

Ireland's construction industry has accounted for more than half of the 71,000 jobs lost over the last twelve months.

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