They set up home abroad in search of jobs and a better quality of life, with almost 25,000 leaving the region between 2010 and 2011.
Most of those emigrating are aged between 16 and 39, and it means the average age of NI's rural villages is rising.
At least 40 people are leaving Co Tyrone this week alone, and the high rate of unemployment in the area means media graduate Megan Donnelly could be next.
She is considering moving to Australia in search of a job - and a better life.
"The temptation to go out there is very high but at the same time I don't want to leave my home town.
"It's not my first choice to leave but it looks like it could be my only choice," she explained.
Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff is calling for the government to address the issue of emigration and create jobs in the areas where they are most needed.
"People talk about job creation and job retention schemes. Those are great but target them at those rural communities where emigration is at its height," he said.
Phil Murray recently graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a psychology degree. The 22-year-old told UTV Live Tonight he believes there are jobs in NI for engineering and computer science.
"But for everyone else like pharmacy or business orientated jobs they are going to have to go abroad and that's just unfortunate.
"But I hope we, Northern Ireland, can come through this and start providing more opportunities, more graduation schemes for the next generation coming through," he said.
Neal Lucas is a member of the Institute of Directors and also works in recruitment. He said the opportunities available elsewhere do not occur in Northern Ireland.
But if the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland is reduced, then he believes global companies will see the region as a more attractive.
"We are losing people, we are losing young people, so there are lots of problems that will be created from that," he explained.
"What we want to see is reasons for them to want to come back. We want to see those big companies come here, we want to see the corporation tax lowered and we want to see world-class companies coming here.
"Also we want to see those people stay so that they can create the world-class companies, the exporting companies of the future," he added.