Record immigration reported in Lithuania, major emigration down - statistics

Immigration numbers are setting new records in Lithuania, with the major wave of emigration slightly declining, shows data provided to BNS by Statistics Lithuania.

In January, 3,307 persons arrived in Lithuania, which is the largest monthly number over the past few years. Among the immigrants, returning Lithuanians accounted for 69 percent and 31 percent were foreigners.

Experts say the growth in immigration flows was mainly due to foreigners coming to work to Lithuania.

"The official immigration statistics may reflect the share of work permits issued to foreigners in Lithuania," Tomas Šiaudvytis, economist at the central Bank of Lithuania, told BNS.

In January, 4,458 persons left Lithuania, including 92 percent citizens of Lithuania.

"We can observe positive tendencies, continued character of which may halt the rather steep decline of the Lithuanian population over the past years. The largest emigration wave is somewhat down, and the statistics of the past few months demonstrates a marked increase in immigration. These are good sighs for the country's labor market and economy," said Šiaudvytis.

The official data suggests that Lithuania lost 30,000 of its residents to emigration to Western Europe in 2017 and 2016 each.

In Šiaudvytis' words, actual emigration numbers are probably smaller, as the 2016 and 2017 statistics included some of the persons who had left the country in earlier years and only declared their emigration after the state-run social insurer Sodra took active steps to redeem unpaid social insurance fees from persons who had failed to declare their emigration.

Polls suggest that most of the emigrants leave Lithuania for higher wages. According to official statistics, Lithuanian residents make an average of 660 euros in take-home salary per month.

Source: BNS
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