The level of joblessness continued to fall in May as the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.8% from April's rate of 7.9%.

The latest figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the seasonally adjusted number of unemployed stood at 169,700 in May, down 1,500 from April.

It also marked a fall of 38,300 compared to the same month last year.

The Irish jobless rate compares with a current euro zone average of 10.2% and is the lowest level since the end of 2008.

Today's CSO figures show that the male unemployment rate fell to 9.2% in May from 10.9% the same time last year.

The female jobless rate was at 6.2%, down from 8.1% in May 2015.

Youth unemployment was also lower in May, easing to 15% from 15.3% in April.

Commenting on today's figures, Merrion economist Alan McQuaid said that while emigration has been a factor to some degree in keeping unemployment down, the labour market has improved dramatically over the past few years due to strengthening of the economic recovery. 

The economist noted that employment rose in 12 of the 14 economic sectors on an annual basis and fell in the other two in the first quarter of 2016. 

The greatest rates of increase were seen in the administrative and support service activities, with employment up 9.9%, and in the construction sector, which rose by 7.8%.

But Mr McQuaid said the labour supply has begun to rise in response to the improved economic situation, and this is likely to slow down the decline in the jobless rate over the coming months. 

"Still, we expect the downward trend in unemployment to continue for a while yet all things being equal," he added.