Unemployment eased back slightly last month to 14.3 per cent, official Irish figures have revealed.
The report showed the crisis of long-term claimants has deepened, with 183,399 signing on for a year or more – up 23 per cent in the last year.
The Central Statistics Office said the total number on the dole was down by more than 30,000 to 437,441 in September as a significant number of people going back to education came off benefits.
The report also warned that 41.9 per cent of people on the register are long-term claimants.
The CSO’s statistical review of the dole highlighted figures based on seasonal changes which showed numbers signing on down 5,400 to 442,200 in September.
But opposition parties have claimed that the drop in dole numbers is as a result of emigration, not a growth in employment.
Sinn Féin claimed 29,166 people have emigrated since the Government took office in the spring.
Peadar Toibin, Sinn Féin spokesman for enterprise, jobs and innovation, claimed the Government’s response to the jobs crisis was anaemic.
“Given the instability endemic within the economy we cannot reasonably assume any underlining trend from today’s unemployment figures other than the fact that nearly half a million people are at crisis point,” he said.
“Currently the government is developing its planned budget cuts. The more right wing elements of the Government are heavily lobbying for over four billion to be taken out of the system,” Mr Toibin said.
“Before they do that they need to seriously consider each of the 442,200 people signing on, the 183,399 long term unemployed and the hundreds if not thousands of businesses in the domestic market that are already on the verge of closure and will be tipped over the edge by government plans to accelerate austerity.”
The Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association described the figures as dire and called for employers to be subsidised to take on new staff.