By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE number of immigrants coming to the Balearics fell sharply last year, according to the latest population data published by the National Statistics Institute yesterday.

The figures show that the population of the Balearics on January 1, this year, stood at 1'088'514 - just 0.8 percent more than at the beginning of last year.

During 2010, a total of 12'982 immigrants moved to the Balearics from overseas, a little over 21 percent less than the 16'473 immigrants who came to the region in 2009.

According to the report, the principal reasons are the lack of jobs, especially in the service sector and construction industry, and the recession.
There was however a slight rise in the number of Spaniards moving to the Balearics from overseas.
In total, including foreign and Spanish immigrants moving to the Balearics, 13'653 set up a new home here last year, again around 20 percent down on 2009.

There has also been a decline in the number of people leaving the Balearics and again, the financial crisis and general lack of job prospects in Europe as a whole are to blame.

Last year, 8'088 people left the Balearics, 40 percent less than the 13'584 who turned their backs on the island in 2009.
And, as the Bulletin has been reporting over the past year, the vast majority of those who have chosen to leave the Balearics were one-time foreign residents.

Of the 8'088 who left the islands last year, 7'237 were foreign residents while the remaining 851 were Spanish nationals.
There has been a significant increase in the number of British residents either relocating to the mainland or returning to the UK since the recession hit two years ago.

For many, especially pensioners, the collapse in the strength in the Pound against the Euro and the increases in the cost of living in the Balearics, left many with little choice but to seek out a cheaper place to live.

However, with the Pound having gained significant ground against the Euro over the past year, many British residents are finding themselves in a much more financially secure and comfortable situation in the Balearics and the property balloon burst has made Spain attractive to holiday home buyers again, so over the course of this year, the islands may see an increase in European immigrants, especially from the UK.

Recent reports from the overseas property experts have claimed that Spain, and in particular the Balearics, is proving more popular to holiday or second home hunters than France because property prices have fallen sharply and the Pound is continuing to hold its own and gain in strength against the Euro.

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