Almost 1,000 Irish people left Ireland each week last year to find work abroad — the highest figure since the recession began in 2008.
According to the latest CSO figures, 50,900 Irish people emigrated in the 12 months to April. Overall, 89,000 people left the country in this period — an increase of 2.2% on the 87,100 in 2012.
The exodus has primarily affected young people, with more than 40,000 of those leaving the country under the age of 24. Around the same number were aged between 25 and 44.
Almost a quarter (21,900) of all people leaving the country went to Britain, while 17.3% (15,400) went to Australia.
The rate of net outward migration among Irish nationals — which shows the difference in the numbers leaving here to those returning — is estimated to have increased significantly, rising from 25,900 to 35,200.
However, the CSO figures show that immigration to Ireland is rising, with 55,900 coming to live here between Apr 2012 up to the same month this year. That represents a 6% increase on the number of immigrants who arrived during the same 12-month period to April 2012.
Of these new arrivals, some 15,700 were returning Irish, with a further 4,900 coming from Britain. Another 7,400 came from western Europe, with 10,900 coming from eastern Europe, Cyprus, and Malta. Just over 17,000 new immigrants came from the rest of the world.
The CSO could not provide a regional breakdown as to the parts of the country most hit by emigration.
Earlier this summer, Irish Rural Link chief executive Seamus Boland said rural areas were being hammered by emigration, with nine out of 10 young people considering leaving the country to find work.
Reacting to the CSO figures, Marie-Claire McAleer, a senior research and policy officer with the National Youth Council of Ireland, said the figures were not unexpected, pointing out that an estimated 177,000 people aged between 15 and 24 have left the country since 2008.
“The emigration figures released today further underline the need for immediate and stronger Government action to stem the flow of young people leaving the country in the first instance and, secondly, the need to provide greater support and advice to young people who are left with little option but to emigrate,” she said.
Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the levels of emigration demonstrated the failure of Government policy.
“This level of emigration exceeds the previous crisis of the 1980s,” he said. “The Government claims this is a lifestyle choice but families and communities across Ireland, and those forced to leave, know that emigration is not a choice but an economic necessity.”
Mr Doherty said the Government was using the emigration rate to mask its failure to create jobs.
“Despite 89,000 people leaving last year, unemployment only fell by 23,000, a 1% decrease in the unemployment rate. It is clear that the policy of Fine Gael and Labour is failing our people and failing the economy.”
“The Government is again relying on emigration to mask their economic failures. The work and skills of those forced to emigrate are being reaped in the economies of Britain, Australia, Canada, and the USA.”<
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