The number of people receiving unemployment payments fell by 25,230 (4.5%) in December when compared to the previous month, according to the Central Statistics Office.

By the end of last month there were almost 529,300 people either on the Live Register or claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. That compares to 554,529 in November.

There were almost 194,000 people on the Live Register on a seasonally-adjusted basis last month, down 9,400 (4.6%) compared to November.

Meanwhile there were just below 335,600 Pandemic Unemployment Claimants, a fall of 15,825 (4.5%) on the previous month.

December saw many Covid-19 restrictions eased, allowing retailers, restaurants and gastro-pubs to reopen.

However many of those restrictions were reimposed before the end of the month, meaning many of those who had stopped claiming the PUP likely reapplied in the last week of the month.

The CSO data does not include the numbers availing of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, however the statistics agency says it is working with the Revenue Commissioners to make this information available.

On an annual basis the numbers on the Live Register rose by 7,864 (4.3%) to 189,860.

Almost 56% of claimants were male, while 88.9% were ages 25 or over.