Tens of thousands more workers are expected to flee the country in the coming months because of the jobs crisis, a leading think-tank has said.
The Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) also warned of an urgent need to deal with a massive jump in long-term unemployment.
While it urged the Government to keep its nerve on drastic cutbacks, the economic forecasters said money needs to be spent retraining those forced onto the dole.
In its latest quarterly report, the ESRI signalled official unemployment figures are being skewed by people "dropping off" the workforce - particularly young men - and huge emigration.
Jean Goggin, a co-author of the report, said a bottoming out of joblessness next year will be down to 120,000 people leaving the country to look for work.
"It's quite significant - we expect 70,000 to leave in 2010 and a further 50,000 in 2011," she said.
"If these people don't leave then unemployment will be higher. But based on the trends we are seeing, migration of that magnitude is expected to continue into next year."
While much of the migration is expected to be among foreign workers returning home it includes Irish people seeking new lives overseas.
A growing number of young men returning to education has also shrunk the workforce, impacting on official unemployment figures.
One of the main concerns in recent trends is the number of people now classed as long-term unemployed - which has more than doubled in a year from 2.2% to 5.3%.