The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of people signing on the Live Register in December fell by 3,300 to stand at 363,900 on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The CSO said that the standardised unemployment rate eased to 10.6% in December from 10.7% in November.

The unemployment rate for the whole of 2014 was 11.3%, which was down from 13.1% in 2013, the CSO added.

Today's figures also show that the number of men signing on the Live Register fell by 1.1% in December, while the number of women eased by 0.6%.

The number of long-term claimants fell by 8.3% in December on an annual basis to 164,797. But 46.3% of those on the Live Register had been on it for more than 12 months.

Growth in employment has come with a recovery that is expected to see Ireland's economy grow faster than any other country in the European Union last year.

The total number of people on the Live Register fell by 9.9% over the course of 2014 and is now 18.9% below the August 2011 peak of 448,800.

Commenting on today's figures, Investec economist Philip O'Sullivan said the positive trends in hiring - total employment has increased for eight successive quarters - has been a key driver of the falling Live Register figures.

But he said there is no denying that emigration and extended stays in higher education have also played supporting roles in producing this outcome.

Meanwhile, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said the unemployment rate remains the key indicator as far as the economy is concerned and steady progress is being made in terms of bringing it down.

"Assuming the economy continues to grow strongly in 2015, an average jobless rate of close to 10% is envisaged for this year, with the figure likely to be running around 9.5% come December," the economist added.