THE next generation are voting with their feet, with one-in-three aged between 18 and 24 planning to emigrate in the next 12 months.
With little public faith in the direction in which the country is heading and at least four tough budgets ahead, the numbers looking for work abroad are set to accelerate next year, with one in ten people saying they will leave.
Unsurprisingly, emigration is most popular with single people with a quarter saying they see no future here, according to the results of an Irish Examiner/Lansdowne Millward Brown opinion poll.
However, 2% of those aged over 65 are planning to move to a new country in the next 12 months.
Munster recorded the lowest figure when asked about the prospect of emigration at 8%, compared with 16% in Dublin. In the 25-34 year category, 25% are planning to emigrate.
Figures for the 12 months to April 2010 show about 65,300 people left Ireland over the last year — about half of whom were Irish citizens — the highest rate since 1989.
Experts say, unlike periods of mass emigration in the 1950s and 1980s, those leaving Ireland now are slightly older, vastly better qualified and bound for jobs in IT, law and the financial sector.
However, sociology professor Mary Corcoran, at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, said new emigrants may be less likely than previous generations to return home.
“It’s actually much easier now for people to maintain that psychological connection with home and their communities — they’ll use Skype and Facebook in a way that’s not been possible in the past,” she said.
One in four confirmed somebody in their household had their working hours cut while more than a half have had a pay cut recently.
Almost two thirds (62%) of those surveyed said they are worse off now than this time last year with just 7% saying they are better off. The Irish Examiner/Lansdowne Millward Brown poll also found one in five people are struggling to pay off loans and mortgages in the past 12 months and have been forced to go to their bank to renegotiate.
The figure is highest among those aged between 35 and 49, with 29% saying they have contacted their financial institution to work out a new plan.
Trust in the banks is also low, with two in five people surveyed saying they do not believe their savings are safe.
A quarter of those surveyed said they “strongly disagree” with the statement that their money is secure in Irish banks. This rises to 30% in Munster. The survey found that 17% “strongly believe” that their money is safe.
The Government has gone to great lengths over the last few months to reassure Irish people that their deposits are safe.
Despite the raft of cuts outlined in the Government’s four year plan, almost two thirds of people surveyed think Ireland is a good place to live.
However, young people are more dissatisfied with the country than those in retirement age, with 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds thinking Ireland is not a good place to live, compared with 26% of those aged over 65.
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