As the economy approaches full employment, the rate of jobless youth remains stubbornly high, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.
The level of youth unemployment now stands at 12.2%, which is still 50% above the level during the height of the Celtic Tiger.
The overall unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.3% in December from November but has fallen from 6.2% a year earlier.
The seasonally adjusted number of people unemployed fell by 600 from November and was down 20,000 in the year.
Pawel Adrjan, an economist at jobs site Indeed, said that youth unemployment was “unacceptably high” and was higher than the pre-crisis average of 8.8% over the 2003 to 2007 period.
Alan McQuaid, economist at Cantor Fitzgerald, said:
He said that officials need to redouble efforts in tackling youth unemployment.
“In our view, Government initiatives in terms of training and education need to focus on this age group in particular,” Mr McQuaid said.
Emigration had helped to keep unemployment down since the financial crisis and the labour market has since improved dramatically over the past few years, reflecting the strengthening of Ireland’s economic recovery, he said.
Nonetheless, December’s 5.3% rate is the lowest rate since February 2008 and compares with the crisis peak of 16% in early 2012.
Ireland’s jobless rate compares with the eurozone average of 8.1%.
The unemployment rate for both males and females was the same, at 5.3%.