The figure does not fully conform to the EU-harmonised Labour Force Survey because it omits certain groups of unemployed people. When adjusted to comply with EU norms the unemployment rate rises to 6.4 percent.
Part-time workers wanting to work longer hours, most of whom are women, constitute another form of hidden unemployment. A total of 295,000 would like to work more than they do at present.
The official unemployment rate was marginally above market expectations of 5.1 percent, according to a survey of economists by SME Direkt.
The number of people registered as unemployed stood at 245,000 in January, down from 283,000 a year earlier.
Employment amounted to 4.349 million, up 158,000 from January 2006.