The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Ireland fell by 6,900 in January to 439,200.

The figures were released by the Central Statistics Office this morning.

January's estimated unemployment rate was 13.4% compared with a revised 13.6% in December and an annual average rate of 13.3% for the whole of last year.

The unadjusted figure rose by 5,598 to 442,667, but this was a smaller rise than usually recorded in January, which meant that the seasonally adjusted figure fell.

The Live Register itself includes some part-time and seasonal workers and does not measure unemployment.

The CSO also said that there were 46,115 new claimants on the Live Register in January, up from 42,615 in December.

This figure is not the same as the monthly change in the Live Register, which is affected by people closing claims and moving between different schemes.

The number of people signing on for more than a year, however, rose by more than 5,200 last month.

Long-term claimants now make up almost 37% of the total number of people on the Live Register.

The number of Irish nationals on the Live Register has increased by 8,600 over the past 12 months, but the number of non-Irish people signing on has fallen by more than 2,800.