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Irish workforce grows 2.4% in Q3, approaches full employment

DUBLIN, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Ireland's workforce grew by 2.4% in the third quarter from a year earlier, pushing the unemployment rate down to a 12-year low of 4.9%, data showed on Tuesday.

Employment growth is a key measure of the health of the economy in a country where the movement of large multinational assets tends to skew gross domestic product.

Employment grew by 53,700, with the economy adding approximately 1,000 jobs a week, to bring total employment to 2,326,900, the Central Statistics Service said. The unemployment rate of 4.9% was down from 5.2% in the second quarter.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe warned that the government must be careful, since the economy was now closer to full-employment than at any time since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

"At this crucial juncture, it is imperative that economic policy supports continued growth in a sustainable way, protecting the economy against external risks while managing the risk of potential overheating," Donohoe said in a statement. (Reporting by Conor Humphries, ediitng by Larry King)