IDA Ireland client companies created 15,012 jobs in the country during the last year.

However, when job losses were taken into account, employment at IDA-backed firms increased by 7,131 in 2014.

The figures were released by the agency at its end of year review in Dublin today.

The report revealed that 197 investments were made into Ireland by foreign businesses during 2014, representing a 20% rise on the previous year.

Eighty eight firms set up operations in Ireland for the first time, which was a 13% rise year-on-year.

Employment at IDA-supported businesses now stands at 174,488, which is the highest on record.

The agency attributed the growth in employment in foreign firms to improved economic conditions, its strategy of concentrating on core sectors and the talent pool on offer in Ireland.

It said the preference of technology companies to scale quickly by locating in Dublin makes the achievement of regional targets difficult.

However, it pointed to a number of significant regional investments such as ClearStream Technologies in Enniscorthy and Jazz Pharmaceuticals in Roscommon.

The IDA said gains were seen across most sectors, with digital media/content, ICT, international financial services and life sciences showing strong increases.

Included among the names of firms investing in Ireland last year were Amazon, Paypal, Ericsson, SAP, Adroll, Bristol Myers Squibb and LinkedIn.

The agency welcomed what it calls the enhancement of the corporation tax regime during 2014, the changes to the residency rules and the Government's commitment to maintaining the corporation tax rate at 12.5%.

The IDA has estimated that for every ten jobs created by foreign direct investment, another seven are generated in the wider economy.

It claimed around 10,000 people are currently employed on construction projects involving IDA client companies.

The agency said it is optimistic about the future pipeline in the first quarter of this year and cautiously optimistic about the remainder of the year. 

But it also warned that Ireland must maintain cost-competitiveness if it is to continue winning business and continue to supply talented graduates in sufficient numbers.

Commenting on the 2014 figures, IDA Ireland Chief Executive Martin Shanahan said the agency's focus is real jobs, real companies and real economic impact and in that context 2014 was a very successful year. 

"While the direct jobs created are of course welcome, we are seeing noticeable gains for the wider domestic economy from the investments made by overseas companies we work with," he said.