Emigration increases from eurozone fringe

Posted at 06/28/12 2:03 AM

BRUSSELS - Migrant workers who flocked to Western Europe before the economic crisis are choosing to return home to countries that are growing economically, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Wednesday.

An increasing number of migrants are leaving some of the eurozone countries worst-hit by the debt crisis, the OECD said.

Ireland, which once was a magnet for Eastern European workers, has seen one of the most dramatic reversals in migration, with roughly 34,000 people leaving in 2010 and the same number in 2011 - equivalent to 1 percent of its population.

"There has been very important re-flow into Poland," OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria told reporters. In particular, there had been flows of migrants back into Turkey "because they're growing".

The Paris-based club of industrialised countries said that permanent migration into European members of the OECD had fallen 3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, and that intra-European migration had also declined due to the economic crisis.

Spain saw a net emigration of 50,000 people in 2011. Gurria said that a main factor altering Spain's migration was the change in growth industries after the collapse of the real estate sector.

"Now Spain is moving into a more diversified economy...and requires different types of skills," he said. "You have millions of people unemployed and companies seeking for certain types of skills that they cannot match, because you no longer need to build houses or apartments."

Over the past decade new immigrants accounted for 70 percent of the increase in the labour force in Europe, but the reduction in migration reflects a worldwide trend, the OECD said. Overall permanent migration into OECD countries in 2010 fell by about 2.5 percent from the previous year to 4.1 million people.