The country's unemployment rate fell below 8% in April for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008, revised figures from the Central Statistics Office show today.

The unemployment rate stood at 7.9% in April, a revision from an earlier estimate of 8.4%, the CSO said following the publication of detailed data for the first three months of 2016.

The CSO's latest Quarterly National Household survey also shows an annual increase in the level of employment in the first quarter of the year. 

The CSO said that employment rose by 2.4% or 46,900 in the year to the first quarter of 2016, bringing the total number of people in employment to 1,976,500.

This represented a 2.1% increase in full-time employment and a 3.7% increase in part-time employment. 

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the level of employment rose by 0.8% over the previous quarter, better than the 0.3% growth in the last quarter of 2015.

Today's figures also reveal that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell from 9% to 8.3% over the quarter.

The number of people who were unemployed fell by 15.7% (or 33,300) in the year to the first quarter, bringing the total number of people unemployed to 179,500. This marked the 15th quarter in a row of falling unemployment levels. 

Today's figures show that employment increased in 12 of the 14 economic sectors. One of biggest rate of increase was seen in the construction sector, with jobs there rising by 7.8%.

The biggest rate of decline in employment was seen in the financial, insurance and real estate activities, with jobs there down by 1.5%.

According to today's figures, the long-term unemployment rate fell from 6% to 4.7% over the year to the end of March. 

Long term joblessness accounted for just over 56% of total unemployment compared to 59.7% a year earlier.

The unemployment rate has fallen in every region of the state, the CSO noted.

Meanwhile, the labour force rose to 2,156,000 in the first three months of the year, up 0.6% or 13,600.

Commenting on today's figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that consecutive gains in employment have been posted in the past three years. 

The economist noted that the Department of Finance is projecting that Ireland will pass the two million people in employment mark in 2016 and replace all of the jobs lost during the downturn by 2018.

There was an average increase in the numbers at work last year of 50,100, up from 32,800 in 2014 and employment prospects look very good again in 2016 due to the strong economic recovery, with another net rise of around 44,000 forecast, Mr McQuaid said. 

"As regards unemployment, we are now looking for an average jobless rate this year of 7.7% as against 9.4% in 2015," he added.