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The headline rate of unemployment in the Irish economy has fallen to 10 per cent, its lowest level since the start of the pandemic.

The latest jobless figures from Central Statistics Office (CSO) point to a sharp acceleration in economic activity in tandem with the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

According to the agency, 273,444 people were estimated to be either out of work or in receipt of the Government’s pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) in September.

This equated to a Covid-adjusted rate of unemployment of 10 per cent, down from 12.4 per cent the previous month and a pandemic high of 31 per cent in April 2020.

The figures come as the Central Bank signalled that a sharp rebound in the economy led by consumer spending could create up to 160,000 new jobs over the next two years.

The figures also come ahead of the complete lifting of restrictions later this month.

The CSO data show the State’s youth unemployment rate – while falling – remained high at 19.6 per cent.

The standard measure of unemployment, which does not include PUP recipients, was put at 6.4 per cent, marginally down on the August figure.

Chief economist at Grant Thornton Ireland, Andrew Webb said the figures “must be some relief to Government ahead of next week’s budget as they are tracking the growing belief that the economy is roaring back into action. Certainly, domestic economic activity is back at pre-pandemic levels according to the Central Bank.

“While this is a cause for positivity, there are sectors in the economy where the shake out of the economic impact of the pandemic will take some time to work through. Sectors that are reliant on footfall and tourism look set to have a longer recovery path, as hybrid working and restrained international travel continues to impact on those sectors.”