New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of people signing on the Live Register fell by 3,300, or 1.2%, in December on a monthly basis. 

This reduced the seasonally adjusted total to 282,400 - the lowest number recorded on a seasonally adjusted basis since November 2008. 

The CSO said that in unadjusted terms there were 276,701 persons signing on the Live Register in December. This represented an annual decrease of 44,915, or 14%.

The Live Register includes part-time workers, as well as seasonal and casual workers who are entitled to jobseeker's benefit or jobseeker's allowance.

Figures earlier this week from the CSO showed that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 7.2% in December from 7.3% in November - the lowest level since August 2008. 

Today's CSO figures also show that the number of male claimants fell by 1.3% on a monthly basis in December, while the number of women eased by 0.9%. 

They also reveal that on an annual basis, the number of men signing on the Live Register fell by 1%, while the corresponding decrease for women was 11%.

Meanwhile, the number of long-term claimants on the Live Register last month stood at 119,911, down 18% on the same time last year. 

The CSO noted a reduction of 20.7% in the number of male long-term claimants in the year to December, while the number of females in a similar position was down by 13.2%.

The level of youth unemployment was also lower, down 21.7%, in December. Annual decreases in youth unemployment has been recorded every month since July 2010.