Sometimes love just ain’t enough, as they say. Neil Irwin, the economics wunderkind and Wonkblogger who essentially grew up among the florescent lit hallways of the WaPo newsroom, is now spreading his wings and leaving the nest. He will join David Leonhardt in developing NYT‘s new, fancy, “we-don’t-need-no-stinkin’-Nate-Silver” data-driven journalism start up. Irwin has been at WaPo for 13 years, starting as an intern in 2000 and becoming one of the main contributors to the much ballyhooed Wonkblog.

His departure will no doubt fuel speculation about Wonkblog’s editor, Ezra Klein. Reports have surfaced recently that Klein is about to leave WaPo to start his own venture. Wonkblog has been a major boon to WaPo -bringing in more that 4 million page hits per month -and the departure of its chief architects is a significant loss for the paper. Read the memo to staff from Greg Schneider and David Cho announcing the departure after the jump.

We regret to announce that Neil Irwin is leaving us to join The New York Times as an economics writer working with David Leonhardt on his new digital venture. Neil started at the Post in 2000 as an intern (he was approximately 12 years old) and his career has been on an upward trajectory ever since. From local business writer (and Steve Pearlstein protege) to master of the Federal Reserve beat, Neil grew quickly into those Brooks Brothers suits and established himself as a must-read on matters of monetary policy and economics. He ducked out to pick up an MBA from Columbia and then again to toss off a book on central bankers, then came back to apply high-level market theory to our fantasy football league, with strangely tepid results. In the past year Neil has played a new role with Wonkblog, helping to guide the coverage and writing regular, insightful posts on the economy. We’ll miss his sophisticated analysis, thoughtful counsel and friendship in equal measures, but it’s impossible not to wish Neil the best in his new role.

Greg David