New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 14.8% in the three months from July to September. 

This compares to an upwardly revised rate of 14.9% in the previous three month period. 

The CSO's quartely national household survey for the third quarter of 2012 shows that unemployment decreased by 3,600 (1.1%) in the year to September.

This brings the total number of people without a job to 324,500. 

The CSO noted that this is the first year on year decrease in unemployment recorded since the start of 2005.

The third quarter survey has been subject to considerable revisions on the back of the results of the 2011 Census of Population.

Today's figures revealed that long term unemployment accounted for 59.5% of total unemployment in the third quarter. This compared to 58.4% a year earlier and 49% in the third quarter of 2010.

The CSO said there was an annual decrease in employment of 0.2% (4,300) in the year to September, bring total employment to 1,841,300.

It said this compares with a yearly fall of 1.3% in the previous quarter and a decrease of 2.1% in the year to the third quarter of 2011.

The total number of people in the labour force in Ireland in the third quarter of this year was 2,165,800 - a fall of 7,900 (0.4%) over the year.

Employment fell in just five of the 14 economic sectors over the year compared to ten in the previous quarter.

The greatest rate of decline was recorded in construction, while fell by 6.8%. Employment in transportation and storage declined by 6.6% while it fell over 4% in administration and support service activities. The CSO said that construction employment now stands at 101,100, a decrease of almost 63% from its peak level of 269,900 recorded in the second quarter of 2007.

Commenting on today's figures Merrion economist Alan McQuaid the labour market remains very weak, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that emigration is playing a big part in keeping down the numbers unemployed.

''That said, there have been positive job announcements in recent weeks which provide some grounds for optimism, and these latest figures are a sign that things are headed in the right direction, albeit slowly,'' he added.