The number of people signing on the Live Register increased sharply again last month, according to figures disclosed by the Taoiseach this morning.
Brian Cowen told the Dáil that almost 17,000 more workers joined the register in March, bringing the total figure to 371,000.
This leaves the standardised unemployment rate at almost 11%.
Last month's increase is less than the 26,500 additional people who joined the Live Register in March.
Mr Cowen has already predicted that total number on the register could reach 450,000 by the end of the year.
Employers' body IBEC said there was 'no comfort' in the deceleration in the increase in the numbers joining the live register
Commenting on the figures, IBEC Chief Economist David Croughan said the increase "was not unexpected given the continuing fallout from the construction sector, the weakness of domestic demand and the difficult trading conditions being experienced by business.
Figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment issued today also confirmed that there have been 20,798 redundancies to date this year, up from 7,913 on the corresponding period in 2008, an increase of 163%.
ISME, the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association, described the figures as 'devastating'.
“The major concern is that the number of redundancies continues to increase on a monthly basis. At present there are nearly 350 individuals being made redundant daily," ISME Chief Executive Mark Fielding said.
"If the trend continues, we could potentially be looking at 100,000 additional redundancies in 2009, over twice the rate in 2008."