Irish services sector employment 'rises'
The Republic of Ireland's services sector saw employment levels rise in March for the first time in 11 months, a report has said.
Staffing numbers rose to 51.9 last month, financial information group Markit's employment index said.
With any number above 50 indicating growth, this compares with a reading of 47.9 in February.
Markit added that while the services sector continued to grow in March, the rate of expansion slowed from February.
Its purchasing managers' index, which measures overall activity in the services sector, fell to 52.1 in March from 53.3 in February.Austerity measures
Official figures released last month showed that the Irish economy fell back into recession in the final three months of 2011.
The Markit report comes a day after Ireland's independent fiscal watchdog, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (IFAC), said the government may have to pass further austerity measures to meet the continuing terms of its bailout package from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Ireland, which was awarded a bailout totalling 85bn euros ($112bn; £71bn) in 2010, is required to cut its budget deficit to 8.6% of its annual economic output this year, down from 10% at the end of 2011.
To try to achieve this, the Irish government introduced 3.8bn euros of tax rises and spending cuts in December, but the IFAC now says it may have to go further.