And of the 27,308 people who did manage to get work by the middle of 2009, just under a half were forced to turn to a different industry.
The CSO figures show 59.1% of those who joined the Live Register in the first quarter of last year were still on it by the end of June, a further 4% were receiving social welfare illness payments and only 0.3% were drawing a pension.
It admitted it did not know what had happened to the remaining 19.1% but speculated that they included those who had left the country, had started self-employment or had returned to education.
An analysis of the numbers joining the Live Register showed a high proportion of young people joined in the period examined.
“While one in eight people in employment at the end of 2008 was under 25, according to the Quarterly National Household Survey for the fourth quarter of 2008, over a quarter of the Live Register entrants were aged under 25,” it said. “Similarly, non-Irish nationals were over- represented in the Live Register inflow. While 14.9% of people in employment at the end of 2008 were non-Irish, 25.2% of Live Register entrants were non-Irish.”
The CSO found that the rate of re-employment was higher for the under 25s than for those aged 25 and over (20.9% as against 16.3%), and somewhat higher for women than men (19.7% as against 16.5%).
The rate of re-employment also varied according to the sector of employment. It was low for production industries at 12.4% and highest for the education sector at 24.1%.
The figures show that five sectors in particular were responsible for the majority of the numbers signing onto the Live Register in the first quarter of 2009 – production industries, construction, wholesale and retail trade, hotels and restaurants, and financial and other business services.
“The difference is particularly marked for the construction sector (11.4% of employment but 19.4% of the inflow) and for hotels and restaurants (5.9% of employment but 9.5% of the inflow),” said the CSO.
However, Live Register inflows were far lower than employment in agriculture, forestry and fishing, public administration and defence, education, and health.