The number of people on the Live Register fell by 33,076 (9.5%) in March when compared to the same month of 2015, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office.

There were 315,600 people on the Live Register last month, compared to 348,676 a year before.

The majority - 277,209 - were aged 25 or over, while around 44.7% of claimants had been on the Live Register for more than a year. Around 59% were male, though there was a faster rate of reduction in the number of men on the Live Register during the past year.

The CSO says that the number of male claimants decreased by 25,705 (12.1%) from March 2015 to March of this year, while the number of female claimants fell by 7,371 (5.4%) in the same period.

Month-on-month, the number of Live Register claimants fell by 2,900 to a seasonally-adjusted 317,800.

Meanwhile the number of people on job activation programmes continued to decline, with just over 79,000 registered in February. This compares to 87,625 a year previous, representing a 9.8% drop year-on-year.

Around 28.7% of those were registered on community employment schemes, while a similar proportion were taking back to education courses.

Just over 15.3% were receiving back to work payments, which includes allowances for people setting up as self-employed. A further 18.7% were on other activation programmes, including JobBridge.

Explainer: Key terms

What is the Live Register?

The Live Register is used to provide a monthly series of the numbers of people registering for unemployment assistance or for various other statutory entitlements at local offices of the Department of Social and Family Affairs.

What is seasonal adjustment?

Specific movement with regard to figures is affected by many seasonal factors, such as: Summer peaks, one-off strikes, and short-term trading.

The aim of seasonal adjustment is to identify the regular patterns and remove them from a time series leaving only the irregular component. This process is known as filtering and makes comparisons of successive observations more reliable.