Central Statistics Office figures show that the numbers of people signing on to the Live Register fell by 900 in January from December.

This brings the seasonally adjusted total on the Live Register to 430,100. January marks the seventh successive monthly fall in a row.

The CSO said that in unadjusted terms, a total of 429,396 people were on the Live Register in January, an annual decrease of 10,193, or 2.3%.

The standardised unemployment rate in January was 14.6%, unchanged from the December level.

Unemployment had stood at 14.9% in January 2012.

Today's figures show that the number of long term claimants on the Live Register this month was 189,857, up 3.3% on the same time last year. The number of male long term claimants rose by 0.7% in the year to January while the number of women rose by 10%.

In the year to January 2013, the number of people aged 25 and over signing on fell by 0.9%, while the number of people aged under 25 decreased by 9.3%.

The CSO noted that annual decreases in youth unemployment have been recorded every month since July 2010. The percentage of people aged under 25 on the Live Register now stands at 15.9% in January, down from 17.1% in January 2012 and 18.6% in January 2011.

ISME, which represents small and medium-sized businesses, said the figures confirmed the stagnation in the economy and the dire need for some plan to include a stimulus for the economy.

“Included in these figures are an increasing number of long-term unemployed, while the real plight of our country is masked by massive youth emigration,” it said.

ISME demanded that the Government produce and start to deliver on a ''realistic economic plan'' for the country.