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Irish go abroad again, for jobs

A lot of Irish mothers here are learning a lot about computers these days. They're keeping up with the times, and preparing to keep in touch with their sons via Facebook et al, as the Irish youth scatter across the globe to escape desperate times.

business Updated: Nov 21, 2010 22:47 IST

A lot of Irish mothers here are learning a lot about computers these days. They're keeping up with the times, and preparing to keep in touch with their sons via Facebook et al, as the Irish youth scatter across the globe to escape desperate times.

Just three years ago, as Ireland's economy boomed, immigrants poured in so fast that experts said the country was on its way to population levels not seen since the mid-19th century.

That has abruptly turned around.

As the country struggles with its newest financial crisis, and the European Union and the International Monetary Fund prepares a bailout package likely to run into tens of billions of dollars, a generation of Irish people are headed to diverse destinations from Australia, where a mining boom has produced construction jobs, to Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Britain and even the Middle East or Asia.

Experts say about 65,000 people left Ireland last year, and some estimate that the number may be more like 120,000 this year.

"Things totally flipped in a very short time," said Edgar Morgenroth, an economist with the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin.

Ireland's economy shrank 7.1% last year and remains in recession. Taxes have been raised and salaries cut for public workers by up to 20%. This month, the government announced that an additional $6 billion would need to be cut from the budget next year.