Irish unemployment rate falls to 6-year low of 9.8 percent

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DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland's unemployment rate has fallen to 9.8 percent, the first time in six years that joblessness levels can be measured in single digits.

Ireland's quarterly economic report published Thursday found that unemployment has declined from 10.1 percent since January.

Unemployment ran below 5 percent for much of the previous decade, thanks to a cheap credit-fueled property boom. That so-called Celtic Tiger economy collapsed amid worldwide credit troubles in 2008, leading to nationalization of most Irish banks and Ireland's 2010 bailout by European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund. Unemployment peaked at 15.1 percent in 2012.

Ireland's economy has steadily improved since the country ended dependence on EU-IMF loans in late 2013. The country is forecast this year to enjoy the strongest economic growth in the 28-nation EU.

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