Page last updated at 11:02 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 12:02 UK

Rise in migrant population slows

Migrant worker
Since the EU was expanded more people have come to work in NI

The number of new migrants to Northern Ireland dropped over the last year, according to official figures.

In 2007 the population grew by 9,800 people due to migration while in 2008 the gain was 5,700 people.

Overall between mid-2007 and mid-2008 the number of people living in Northern Ireland is estimated to have increased by 15,900 people to 1.775m.

The Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) suggested the drop in migration is due to the recession.

Since the European Union's expansion in 2004 there has been increased migration but lack of jobs amid the economic downturn may be deterring new arrivals.

NICEM executive director Patrick Yu said: "They have already stopped since last year because of the economic recession. They don't see new jobs in the UK or Ireland."

The 0.9% increase in overall population is because of:

• Natural growth of 10,600 people (25,200 births and 14,600 deaths)

• Net migration gain of 5,700 people (27,500 people came to Northern Ireland to live and 21,700 people left)

• A net loss of 500 due to other changes, primarily a reduction in armed forces personnel stationed in Northern Ireland.

A Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) spokesman said: "Natural growth has again become the main driver of population growth in Northern Ireland following considerable migration to Northern Ireland since EU expansion in 2004."

NISRA will publish a more detailed statistical report on long-term migration later this year.


The figures also point to a recovery in the birth rate.

In the ten-years period between 1998 and 2008 the number of children has fallen from 411,300 to 381,100 a decrease of 7.3%, reflecting a declining number of babies born in the late 1980s and 1990s.

However, the latest birth figures show a significant rise in the number of babies born since 2001.

NISRA estimated that with the current pattern of fertility the "average" woman will have 2.11 children in her lifetime.

The number of babies born between mid-2007 and mid-2008 (25,200) is 17% higher than the number born between mid-2000 and mid-2001 (21,500).

At the other end of the scale people there are also more elderly people.

Between 2007 and 2008 the pensioner population increased by 2.1% (from 289,700 to 295,800).

In the ten-year period between 1998 and 2008 the pensioner population increased from 256,600 to 295,800 a rise of 15.3%;

Between 2007 and 2008 the very elderly population (people aged 85 or older) increased by 2.6% (from 27,300 to 28,000).

In the ten-year period between 1998 and 2008 the very elderly population increased from 23,200 to 28,000 a rise of 20.5%.

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