Ireland's official workforce rises for first time since 2008

The number of people working in Ireland rose last year for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis, while the unemployment rate held steady this month, official data showed on Wednesday.

"The standardised unemployment rate in February 2013 was 14.1 percent, unchanged from the revised January 2013 rate," the Central Statistics Office said in a statement.

The CSO had initially put the January rate at 14.6 percent, while December's level has also been revised down to 14.1 percent from 14.6.

At the same time, Ireland's official workforce increased last year for the first time since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

"There was an annual increase in employment of 0.1 percent or 1,200 in the year to the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing total employment to" 1.848 million, the CSO said.

"This is the first annual increase in employment recorded since the second quarter of 2008," it added in the statement.

The Live Register is not designed to be a fully accurate measure of unemployment since it includes part-time workers and casual staff entitled to benefits in a country whose population stands at 4.6 million.

Irish unemployment peaked at 15 percent in February last year, the highest level since the country secured an 85-billion-euros ($111-billion) bailout in late 2010.

Ireland has been severely battered by the international financial crisis and accepted an EU/IMF bailout after a grave downturn in its economy.

Dublin, which hopes to exit its bailout programme at the end of this year, has predicted an unemployment rate of 14.5 percent for 2013, marking no notable improvement on 2012.