Released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) earlier today, the new emigration estimates are sadly confirmation that we can now begin to compare this most recent wave of emigration with that of the 1980s. While it is encouraging to see a decrease in emigration compared to last year this is all still in the context of very high rates which have seen almost a quarter of a million Irish people emigrate since 2008.
In terms of net figures (those departing minus those returning) the decade of the 1980s saw an average of 24,000 people leaving on an annual basis. Over the last five years the net annual average of Irish people leaving has been 24,760 and this average will likely go up over the next year or two.
One of the standout findings of the estimates is that 3rd level graduate emigration is at a high level and has risen significantly. 29,000 people who emigrated last year were students prior to emigration compared with 20,200 in the previous year.
Most notable though is that much less Irish people are returning. This could well be a sign that more people who do emigrate are deciding to stay in their adopted land. The rate of 11,600 Irish people returning last year is one of the lowest annual rates of return that we know of on record.
It is now time for the government to take new and innovative steps to connect with the hundreds of thousands of people who have emigrated in recent years particularly now that the economy is showing sign of improvement. We have submitted a proposal to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the Development of an Irish Emigrant Register. This would be a simple database that emigrants could add their details to and they would get regular notifications from the Irish State including notifications of relevant job vacancies as they emerge.
To read the full report from the CSO go to: www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/population/