UNEMPLOYMENT has soared to its highest level since the start of the economic crisis -- with 14.8pc of the workforce now on the dole.
The news will prove a serious setback for the Government, who have been heralding a series of investments in Ireland as key to reducing the unemployment rate.
The jobless figure jumped from 14.5pc to 14.8pc in the last three months, new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveal.
The total workforce figure now stands at 1,790,000 -- the lowest since 2003. Employment in general has fallen by 1pc or 18,100 people since the start of 2011.
A significant number of departures from the public sector at the beginning of 2012 are believed to have impacted on the figures. And according to the quarterly survey, long term unemployment has also risen, from 7.8pc in 2011 to 8.9pc at the beginning of 2012.