Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan has said emigration is having a devastating impact on rural communities across the North.
The Deputy Chair of the Assembly's Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee was speaking after it was revealed that 25,438 people left the North from mid-2012 to mid-2013.
Mr Flanagan said:
"These statistics paint a very bleak picture and highlight the very real demographic challenges facing many areas. On average, 489 people left the north every week during this period.
"Rural areas in particular have been very badly hit, not only by emigration, but also by young people moving to more urban areas for university and for work, the majority of which will never return.
"This then present serious social challenges for local communities in terms of sustaining rural schools and fielding football teams.
"Despite all the recent fanfare around job announcements, there is still a huge lack of job opportunities in rural areas. Much more needs to be done to create jobs to enable people to continue living at home in their own communities instead of being forced abroad in search of employment."