Government statisticians say Ireland's unemployment rate has fallen to a seven-year low of 8.9 percent with strong jobs growth in most sectors, particularly the long-battered but crucial construction sector.

Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton welcomed Tuesday's figures showing a bigger-than-expected drop from September's rate of 9.1 percent. Unemployment peaked at 15.1 percent in 2012, but economic growth has surged since Ireland exited its international bailout two years ago.

Burton said Ireland was "moving at speed in the right direction."

Ireland also unveiled plans to spend 2.8 billion euros ($3 billion) building schools in a boost for construction jobs.

A construction boom provided the bedrock for the latter years of Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy, which collapsed in 2008 amid the global credit crunch and Irish banks' exposure to toxic property loans.