Irish data shows unemployment rate easing to 13.6%

Ireland's unemployment rate dropped slightly last month but the bailed-out eurozone nation is still struggling to cut the large number of people out of work, official data showed on Wednesday.

The standardised unemployment rate stood at 13.6 percent in June, down slightly from 13.7 percent in May.

The figure represents the lowest rate in three years, and is well down from the high point of 15.1 percent in February 2012.

"In unadjusted terms there were 435,357 people signing on the Live Register in June 2013. This represents an annual decrease of 16,617 (-3.7 percent)," the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in a statement.

The Live Register is not designed to be a fully accurate measure of unemployment, however, because it includes part-time workers and casual staff entitled to benefits in a country with a population of 4.6 million.

Most worryingly for policy makers in Dublin, Wednesday's figures showed long-term unemployment continues to be a major problem, with 45.4 percent of the those unemployed classified as long-term.

Ireland has struggled with exceptionally high levels of unemployment since it construction-driven economy collapsed in 2008.

In late 2010, it accepted an 85 billion euro ($110 billion) EU-IMF bailout programme, which it is expected to exit later this year.

However, last week official data revealed that the Ireland was officially back in recession after revised figures showed three consecutive quarters of economic contraction.