Irish emigration is now at its highest level since before the Famine with 111 quitting Ireland each and every day according to official figures.
The government’s Central Statistics office has confirmed that emigration has more than doubled in the past two years with over four thousand people seeking a new life in America alone in the period covered.
The vast majority of those emigrating are aged between 15 and 44 with Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand their likely destinations.
“You’d have to go back to the 1800s to get levels like that,” said CSO spokesperson Deirdre Cullen.
Over 40,000 Irish citizens quit the country in the last year as harsh economic reality hits home.
A new survey has confirmed that 40,200 Irish nationals emigrated in the 12 months to April, a rise of 45 per cent year on year.
Irish passport holders accounted for over 50 per cent of the 75,000 people who emigrated between April 2010 and 2011.
The figure for Irish nationals has increased from 27,700 to 40,200 in that period according to official data from the Irish government’s Central Statistics Office.
The survey also confirms a drop-off in the level of emigration amongst non-Ireland people for the second year running with EU accession states like Romania and Bulgaria attracting their citizens back home.
The CSO figures state that emigration from Ireland reached 76,400 in the year ended April 2011, an increase of 11,100 on the 65,300 recorded in the previous year.
The report states that more than twice as many men and women of all nationalities left in the year to April than did in the same period in 2006 with 37,800 women and 38,700 men leaving in the survey period.
Of those, 18,900 people emigrated to Britain with over half of them men. The UK figure is up 31 per cent on the previous 12-month period.
The United States welcomed 4.400 Irish emigrants, of whom 2,400 were male.
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Almost 34,400 of those who emigrated were in the 25-44 age group with 33,100 in the 15-24 age group, 2,200 in the 45-64 age group and 5,000 people aged 65 and over.
Of the men who left, about 18,300 fell into the 25-44 age bracket, while 15,000 were aged 15-24 while amongst women leaving, most fell into the younger 15-24 group.
The UK and Australia are growing in terms of the numbers of Irish emigrating there but the survey indicates a fall in those leaving for other European countries.
The number of immigrants into Ireland also increased in the same 12 month period, from 30,800 to 42,300.
The CSO survey also shows a two per cent fall in employment, down 37,800 in the year ended mid-2011, compared with 2.9 per cent in the previous quarter. Analysts believe this trend suggests that unemployment is tapering off.
A population increase of 0.3 per cent in the year was unevenly distributed across the regions with Dublin showing the biggest increase of 0.7 per cent.
The CSO said: “The natural increase in the population continues to be very strong,” with 75,100 births in the 12 months to April this year and 27,400 deaths.
“The combined effect of strong natural increase and negative net migration resulted in a relatively small increase in the overall population of 13,600, bringing the population estimate to 4.48 million in April 2011,” said the CSO.
The rise in emigration has been condemned in a statement from the Union of Students in Ireland.
President Gary Redmond said: “Our graduates have two options: leave the country in search of work or join the dole queue.
“Soaring unemployment and emigration is hampering any hope of realizing the Government’s ambitions of creating a smart economy in Ireland.
“Masses of highly skilled graduates are leaving for distant shores, taking with them the future prosperity of this island.”
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