Calling migrants: the Irish jobs market needs you

Smart Money: Key sectors now rely on migrants to fill up to half of new jobs

As the State’s economy reaches full employment, the role of migrants in filling jobs becomes more important. Photograph: iStock

As the State’s economy reaches full employment, the role of migrants in filling jobs becomes more important. Photograph: iStock

The jobs boom has been the clearest evidence of the economic recovery, with the numbers at work now comfortably exceeding the peak of the previous boom in 2007. Migration has been a key factor both in recent economic upturns and downturns, with a massive inflow in the early 2000’s – mainly from Eastern Europe – followed by a return to emigration during the crash. Now, new Central Bank research shows that the balance has swung again, with immigration exceeding emigration and new sectors very heavily reliant on employees from overseas. In turn, this has implications for areas such as housing – and for investment here in everything from public transport to health and education.

1. The key figures

During the bust, many people who had come to the State from Eastern Europe left the country, as did many Irish people. The numbers leaving exceeded the numbers arriving in 2009 – and this trend continued up to 2014. The net outflow of Irish nationals between 2008 and 2015 was 113,000 people. Now the trend has reversed. Recent research by the Central Bank* runs the numbers and estimates that net inward migration – the excess of people coming here over those leaving – averaged 23,000 a year since 2016. It is worth nothing that in 2007 we had a net migration inflow that exceeded 100,000.

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