THE NUMBER of citizens from the EU's newer member states who registered to work or to access public services in the Republic fell by 40 per cent in the first half of the year, suggesting a significant easing of the inward migration flow from central and eastern Europe.
Figures released to The Irish Times show that just over 40,000 people from the EU's 12 newest members obtained a PPS number in the first six months of the year, compared to 66,500 over the same period last year.
There was a decline of some 40 per cent among Poles and Lithuanians, and the trend appears to have accelerated last month, with these countries showing reductions of 46 and 44 per cent respectively. Take-up among Romanians has fallen by 58 per cent so far this year.
The economic downturn shows no evidence yet of deterring highly skilled workers from outside the EU. Figures held by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment confirm some 4,900 work permits were issued in the first half of the year - 600 more than at the same point in 2007. These permits are granted for jobs that cannot be filled from within the European Economic Area and exclude labourers, childminders and most catering staff.
Among those granted new permits this year, the largest numbers came from India (1,383) and the Philippines (605), both of which are well-represented in the health service. These were followed by US citizens (415), South Africans (253) and Malaysians (233).