The latest figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office show that the number immigrants with Irish nationality entering the country has increased by 74 percent, to 21,100 during the period from January to April 2016.

While more Irish continued to leave the country than return the gap has narrowed considerably when compared to the same period for 2015.

The latest estimates show that the number of emigrants from Ireland has declined by 6 percent to 76,200 from 80,900, during 2016 to April, while the number of immigrants rose by 15 percent from 69,300.

In a statement the CSO said “The combined migration changes resulted in net inward migration of 3,100 in April 2016 compared to net outward migration of 11,600 in the previous year.”

The United Kingdom continues to be most popular destination for emigrants, with 16,600 people moving, from Ireland, there in the 12-month period. The United States, which saw 6,600 people moving there, overtook Australia, which attracted 6,200 people, down 17 percent on the previous year and 65.9 percent since the numbers moving there from Ireland peaked in 2012.

Ireland experiences net inward migration for the 1st time in 7 years.

— Daniel Mulhall (@DanMulhall) August 23, 2016

The number of people, aged 15 to 24 emigrating, during January to April 2016, was estimated at 31,700. That is an increase of 1,300 from the figure of 30,400 in 2015. The figure for inward migration among the same group is 19,700 which leave the net emigration of those between 15 and 24 at 12,000.

The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) described these figures as encouraging. However, they added that more work needed to be done to slow the trend of young Irish leaving the country.

Marie-Claire McAleer, Head of Research and Policy at NYCI told the Sunday Business Post "While we welcome the increase in the number of Irish nationals returning, there remain many impediments to returning to Ireland.

“It is important to emphasize that provision of quality jobs with career progression opportunities and decent wages, affordable accommodation and access to quality services are key factors in young emigrants’ decision to return to Ireland and to remain living here.”

Net Migration in Ireland by nationality. Still negative among Irish nationals. Increase in non-EU immigration.

— John O'Brien (@johnlpob) August 23, 2016
The figures for non-Irish nationals net inward migration grew for the fourth year in a row to 13,800 from 11,600. According to the CSO non Irish-nationals, from outside the European Union, continued to display strong migration flows. They accounted for 40 percent of all immigrants and 24 per cent of emigrants.

Of the 76,200 who emigrated nearly 42 percent were Irish nationals, which is a drop of nearly 10 percent or 3,500 on the figures from 2015. The majority of those who emigrated had been working or studying before departing with 10 per cent saying they were unemployed.