Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton has insisted the government is sticking to its target of getting 100,000 people back to work.
Minister Bruton said the contraction in the economy would not affect the government's plan to encourage employment.
There are 40,000 more people working than two years ago, but only one in three new jobs is a full-time position.
The minister says the government is sticking to its targets.
"If you come from an economy that's losing jobs at a rate of 90,000 per year, you're not going to suddenly see a surge into the positive zone," the Minister said.
"I think to see 20,000 net extra people at work in the last 12 months is an encouraging sign, and it certainly does not dispose me to change our target of 100,000 by the end of 2016."
The Minister also insisted that the country's pharmaceutical jobs are safe, despite the so-called "patent cliff", where high-cost drugs manufactured in Ireland go off patent and can be replaced by cheap copies.
The value of Irish drug exports fell by almost €2bn last year.
"The trick is to try and stay ahead of those trends," he said.
"The employment levels actually grew in this sector despite the patent cliff problems."