Malopolska struggles to find workers for its rapidly developing market as locals leave Poland for West

Malopolska regions with the highest percentages of emigrants are those with the highest unemployment rates – Gorlice, Limanowa, Nowy Sacz, Oswiecim, Olkusz, Tarnow, Chrzanow, Nowy Targ and Wadowice. Some community members are also leaving permanently, including those from Zabno, Andrychow, Libiaz, Tarnow and Olkusz. Jaroslaw Medynski, representative of the Town Hall Office in Olkusz, admits that while the situation on the job market is not easy in Olkusz, there are also many new people coming into the town and buying property in the area, especially from Krakow. According to statistics, eight percent of Malopolska inhabitants work abroad, 70 percent of them having left after Poland’s accession to the EU. Some analysts say, however, that statistics may be imprecise as some people leave without giving notice. Various sources estimate that at most 200,000 people left the country to find temporary work abroad.Last year only 32,000 emigrants from Malopolska reported their departure to the official administration offices, making it difficult for local employment offices to determine accurate emigration figures, warning that current information should be used with care. Administration offices often learn that somebody went abroad by individual cases, while conducting standard administrative procedures or during army recruitment. The Malopolska emigration also modifies Polish unemployment statistics showing 145,000 people as unemployed in early January 2007, versus 119,000 by the end of June. “There is a large group of people without permanent jobs who don’t come to register because they do not need to,” says Tomasz Magdziarz, director of the Regional Employment Office in Limanowa. “They can choose between a well-paid job abroad and a permanent full-time job in Poland.”Emigrants choose various destinations; the U.S. is still popular with many Tarnow and Podhale families, Germany is often chosen for seasonal work, and young people from bigger cities prefer Britain and Ireland. According to Agnieszka Kosmidek, a EURES employment agency advisor at Krakow’s Employment Office, individuals who emigrate become increasingly independent and no longer appear to need help or advice, as they would before.Malopolska currently has 3.27 mln inhabitants. Overall, last year’s migration balance was positive as the region gained 1,292 permanent residents and over 14,000 temporary residents – primarily in Krakow and its nearby regions such as Wieliczka and Myslenice. However, other large Malopolska cities experienced a negative direction, with the number of inhabitants having decreased in places like Tarnow and Nowy Sacz, though this may partially be a result of “internal migration.”

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