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    Emigration has peaked, claims ESRI in forecast

    By Noreen Bowden | April 13, 2010

    Ireland will not create any new jobs in the next two years, but its jobless rate will fall due to continued outward migration and a fall in the rate of labour force participation, says the Economic and Social Research Institute in its latest economic commentary. The ESRI predicts no change in GNP this year over 2009, and a 1/2% reduction in GDP. A modest return to growth is predicted in 2011, with 2.75% growth in GNP and 2.5% in GDP. The number of workers, however, will remain unchanged – at about 1.9 million. While the numbers will be the same, there will be some improvement in the statistics:

    In spite of the stability in the numbers employed, we expect unemployment to fall between 2010 and 2011, averaging 13¾ per cent in 2010 and 13 per cent in 2011. This expected fall in the rate of unemployment is related in part to expected migratory outflows – 60,000 in the year ending April 2010 and 40,000 in the year ending April 2011. We also expect to see on-going falls in labour force participation.

    So the ESRI is suggesting that net migration has already peaked this year. I’m curious about how this assertion will hold up if the global recovery is faster than Ireland’s. In any case it’s hardly encouraging that the unemployment numbers will be shrinking almost entirely because the jobless are leaving the country. No doubt the government will point to falling unemployment as a sign of their success in handling the economy, as the emigrants’ departures shrink the unemployment rolls and lesson domestic pressures. The media has reported that the study’s author has said that unemployment would reach 16-17% were it not for the emigration release valve.<p>It’s depressingly familiar, and it’s had to believe that the government is terribly concerned with this situation. There is no job stimulus programme for young people, and cuts in the last budget aimed at keeping young people “close to the workforce” seemed to have been aimed at creating precisely this situation.<p> As Piaras Mac Einri said on Newstalk today, “Who has made any speech about emigration in the last twelve months?” And of course, emigrant services were cut by 14% in the last budget; by contrast, aid for the greyhound racing industry was cut by 13%. Such a depressing situation to have arisen under a government that genuinely deserved credit for transforming the relationship between Ireland and the Irish abroad. <p>See the press release on the ESRI website.

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