THE Irish are among the most loath in Europe to consider emigration — yet by next April, economic necessity will have forced 120,000 workers to leave the state in search of work.
The Government’s think-tank, the Economic and Social Research Institute, has said 70,000 people left the country in the last year and that a further 50,000 will pack their bags by next April.
A large number of those leaving will be made up of foreign workers returning home. But a significant percentage will comprise Irish people left with no option but to find work opportunities abroad.
The ESRI has made that prediction because, in spite of saying the worst is over, it believes any recovery in our economy, whether this year or next, will be jobless.
It says that by the end of 2010, employment will fall by 5.5% to 1.86 million, down from over 2.1m in 2008, and will hold at that level in 2011.
Unemployment is set to peak this year at 13.25% or 286,000, falling just marginally to 280,000 by the end of 2011, it said.
Its forecast came as the Finance Minister, Brian Lenihan, yesterday pledged that banks will be forced to make €12 billion worth of lifeline loans to struggling businesses.
Overall, the ESRI believes the economy will only grow by just 0.25% this year and that the domestic part will continue to shrink. Next year, it says the growth will be around 2.25%, although it admits its forecast comes with huge uncertainty.
It even warns that in many European countries, financial and fiscal contractions could produce a “double dip” recession.
If there is to be growth, the ESRI says it will come mainly from the exporting segment of the economy comprised largely of multinationals
The ESRI’s gloomy forecast came on the same day as the European Union released a new survey showing generations of mass emigration had left Irish people among the most reluctant in Europe to go abroad in search of work.
The survey found that two in every three people said that if they lost their jobs here, they would not go abroad.
Young people surveyed said they were reluctant to leave because they did not want to leave their friends, while the older generations said they were too attached to home.
Nonetheless, 15% of those surveyed by the commission said they were currently thinking of emigrating and one in five said they could see themselves moving abroad in the future.
The European Commission survey did find that the current Irish workforce has the most experience of emigration, with more than 20% of those surveyed saying they worked outside the country in the past.
This was double the EU average. Only Luxembourg had a higher percentage.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved