New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of people signing on the Live Register fell by 1,800 in April, which brings the seasonally adjusted total to 349,500.

The CSO said that standardised unemployment rate was 10% in April, unchanged from the rate in March and compared to a high of 15.1% in 2012.  

This marked only the second time in almost two years that the unemployment rate did not decrease on a monthly basis.

Davy stockbrokers said that today's unchanged unemployment rate was "disappointing".

But it added that when the Quarterly National Household Survey for the first quarter is published by the CSO, the unemployment rate may be significantly revised, potentially below 10%.

The quarterly survey incorporates official estimates of labour force and employment growth.

"Today’s flat unemployment rate in April is slightly disappointing but follows on from the news yesterday that retail sales grew by 9.2% in the year to March 2015 and with property prices stabilising, up 0.9% on the month," commented Davy's Conall MacCoille. 

"Overall, recent short-term indicators on the pace of growth in the Irish economy have been extremely strong," he added.

Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said the unchanged unemployment rate may have been down to the seasonally-adjustment process around the Easter holiday, which fell earlier this year than last year. 

The economist pointed out, though, that the rate is now more than a full percentage point lower than the euro zone average of 11.3%, and is likely to continue falling in 2015 all things being equal. 

"It is only a matter of time before the jobless rate is back in single digits. Indeed, we are confident that this will happen when the May data are released in a few weeks time," the economist added. 

Today's figures show that in unadjusted terms, a total of 343,551 people signed on the Live Register. This represents an annual decrease of 11.6%, the CSO said.

They also reveal that on a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of men signing on this month fell by 0.8%, while the number of women eased by 0.1%. 

Meanwhile, the number of long term claimants fell by 11.1% on a yearly basis to stand at 158,488. The number of male long term claimants decreased by 14.9% in the year to April, while the number of long term claimants who are women fell by 2.9%.

As part of its Spring Economic Statement, the Department of Finance moved up its growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016 and forecast that unemployment will drop to 9.6% this year and to 8.8% next year. 

Ireland to get EU funding for youth employment

Separately, Ireland is one of a number of countries to benefit from funding for youth unemployment, following a vote in the European Parliament.

€1bn will be provided to 20 member states in order to get young people back to work through the EU Youth Employment initiative.

The fund tops up European Social Fund money in member states with regions where youth unemployment exceeds 25%.

The commission's proposal was approved by MEPs without amendments by 632 votes to 30, with 31 abstentions.