The new national minimum wage rate will come into effect on 1 February following the signing of the order today by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O'Keeffe.

The order sets the new rate at €7.65 per hour.

In a statement, Minister O'Keeffe said the move to reduce the rate by €1 would help improve competitiveness.

'Labour costs represent a relatively high proportion of total input costs across a range of locally trading sectors,' he said.

'They are a significant input into the cost of domestic services while at the same time impacting on our ability to sell abroad.

'They are a key influencer in foreign direct investment decisions.

'Our economic research tells us that a reduction in the national minimum wage will cut the cost of doing business and support more jobs in the medium term.'

Public notices will appear in national newspapers this month advising of the new rate.