Unemployment rate approaching pre-recession levels

The unemployment rate in Ireland is set to approach pre-economic crash levels next year, new figures suggest.

The jobless figure is expected to average 6.2% this year and 5.4% in 2018, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found.

This will be close to the rate prior to the 2007/08 financial crash.

Unemployment peaked at 15.9% in December 2011 at the height of the economic crisis.

The ESRI forecast also predicted another strong year for the Irish economy in 2018, with a 4.2% growth in GDP predicted.

The ESRI said a tightening of the labour market coupled with projections for inflation are set to bring "moderate" wage rises in the coming year.

However, ESRI's winter Quarterly Economic Commentary warned of a potential knock-on risk in 2018 from a slow-down in the UK.

Author professor Kieran McQuinn said: "The Irish economy is likely to have experienced robust growth again in 2017.

"Tax receipts and the continued increase in labour market activity highlight the performance of the Irish economy.

"However, key risks to the outlook in the near to medium-term include the slowdown increasingly apparent in the UK economy and the potential for overheating in the domestic economy over the coming year."

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