Thursday 21 February 2019

Emigration at record high as 240 people move abroad every day

Concern as 89,000 leave in the space of a year

Sarah McCabe and Michael Brennan

THE flow of people leaving the country shows no signs of abating as emigration reaches record highs – despite government claims the economy is stabilising.

Emigration is now at its highest point since modern records began in 1987. Around 240 people a day are leaving – or 10 people an hour, or one every six minutes.

The figures represent a setback for the Government, which tried to put the focus on the fact that the numbers at work had risen by more than 33,000 over the past year.

But the Central Statistics Office's migration figures show a total of 89,000 people left the country between April 2012 and April 2013.

UNACCEPTABLE

That's more than double the amount who left in 2006.

The Government admitted it was now at an "unacceptable level", as the opposition claimed emigration was having a bigger effect on reducing the dole queues than government policy.

Speaking during a visit to Belfast, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore admitted he was concerned about the figures.

"One of the things that we are trying to do is to ensure that we create employment and attract investment so that as many of those people as possible will have an opportunity of coming back and working in this country," he said.

The latest figures from the CSO show the vast majority of emigrants are young. Two-fifths are 24 and under, while another two-fifths come from the 25 to 44 age bracket.

About 177,000 people between 15 to 24 – the equivalent of the population of Cork city – have now emigrated since the start of the financial crisis.

The CSO research also showed emigrants are increasingly Irish nationals rather than foreigners returning home.

Two-thirds of those who left in the past 12 months were Irish nationals; in 2008 this was just a quarter. The most popular destination was the UK, followed by Australia.

The National Youth Council is calling for more support for young emigrants abroad and a government action plan to incentivise them to return home when the economy recovers.

Immigration also rose during the year, but still fell far short of the numbers who left.

Some 55,900 people came to Ireland in the year ending in April, a rise of 6pc in just 12 months – but still just a third of the 151,000 that moved to this country in 2007, prior to the crash. The proportion of returning Irish nationals among those immigrants was also down, after a recent peak in 2010.

Because emigrants far exceeded immigrants, the CSO recorded an annual net loss of 33,000 people due to migration alone – a fourth year of net declines. Were it not for Ireland's strong birth rate, this would have lowered the country's population.

This record flood of people leaving Ireland comes despite other research released yesterday by the CSO showing the job market is improving.

The number of people with jobs grew by 1.8pc between April and June alone, the fastest level of growth since 2007. Despite repeated warnings that employers are only offering part-time roles to cut costs, the bulk of these were full-time jobs.

Business body IBEC called it "further evidence that the labour market recovery is now firmly under way". The private sector drove this recovery, with government cuts continuing to bite in the public sector.

Unemployment also fell by 22,000, an impressive 7pc. However, many credited this to emigration, arguing that people who cannot find jobs are opting to leave the country rather than sign on for the dole.

"Emigration is playing a big part in keeping down the numbers unemployed," said Merrion Stockbrokers' chief economist Alan McQuaid.

The Department of Jobs said that emigration was at an "unacceptable level".

But it added the only way to respond was to support job creation through its Action Plan on Jobs.

Irish Independent

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