Immigrants leave Ireland

The Wall Street Journal highlights the downturn here with a story on immigrants leaving. The statistics are pretty stark, and I like how the WSJ uses these and most Irish media don’t:

Citigroup economist Piotr Kalisz in Warsaw estimates that up to half of Polish émigrés to Western Europe since 2004 will return home in the next two years. In the U.K., half of an estimated one million Eastern European arrivals since 2004 have already left, says the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research in an April report.

Aiding the reversal: currency dynamics that have narrowed the East-West wage gap. Poland’s currency, the zloty, has benefited from the stability of EU membership, the growing economy, a steady flow of remittances from Polish emigrants and, more recently, Poland’s central bank raising its interest rates.

Andrej Golczewski, who arrived in Ireland in 2005 expecting to stay five years, at first earned a monthly salary for laying sheet metal that was equivalent to four times what he could earn at home in zloty, a boon in saving for his daughter’s university fees. But the euro has dropped 30% since May 2004, and with Polish construction wages rising, Mr. Golczewski left Ireland for home last month.

Similar dynamics are at work in the U.K., where a housing bust is threatening to tip the economy into recession and the pound is down 40% against the zloty since May 2004.

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