A thousand people now emigrating every week
People desperate to find work are leaving the country at the rate of more than 1,000 a week, according to new figures.
The worst emigration crisis in the history of the State is highlighted in the latest Economic and Social Research Institute report which shows that 60,000 people will have emigrated in the 12 months up to April.
A further 40,000 are predicted to leave in the next 12 months as unemployment here remains the third highest in Europe.
In 1989 when the last recession reached its peak, the emigration figure reached 44,000.
The latest forecasts show Ireland will lose the equivalent of the population of Galway city this year and twice the population of Kilkenny city next year.
The ESRI figures come as the Government claims the unemployment crisis is easing.
Although the numbers on the Live Register have fallen by 30,000 to 437,000 since last August, analysts claim this is mainly because of the numbers of young people leaving the country to find work abroad.
The drop in the numbers signing on was largest in the under 25 age group which is the group who are leaving the country in the biggest numbers.
Unemployment is forecast to average 13.5pc this year. Long-term unemployment is now at 6.5pc. One third of 15-19 year olds are out of work and more than one in four 20-24 year olds are in the same boat.
"The weakness in the labour market for younger people has given rise to the return of emigration and our forecasts envisage a continuation of this," says the ESRI report.
ESRI economist Alan Barrett declined to say how many people were actually leaving the country when immigration is excluded.
He also could not say what percentage were Irish and what percentage were foreigners returning home.
A recent investigation found almost 46,000 Irish citizens travelled to five key overseas destinations to find work in the last year.
This included almost 24,000 people who headed to Australia on work visas. Another 3,462 people emigrated to Canada, 4,444 went to New Zealand, 1,700 travelled to the US and 600 headed for Germany. More than 11,000 people are believed to have emigrated to the UK for work during last year.
Peter Hammond, the director of the London Irish Centre in Camden said most of the new people coming to the centre were in their 20s.
"There are very few middle aged people," he said.