The number of foreigners in Germany rose at the fastest pace in 15 years in 2011

April 5, 2012


Germany attracted more southern Europeans in 2011


BERLIN- The number of foreigners in Germany rose at the fastest pace in 15 years in 2011, data showed on Wednesday, with thousands from debt-stricken euro zone countries moving to Europe’s largest economy in the search for work.

The number of Greek, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian nationals in Germany last year jumped by around 16,700 people, after stagnating in 2010, data from the German federal statistics office showed.

Germany historically has a large population of foreign nationals from these countries, after taking in millions of low-skilled “guest workers” in the 1960s and 1970s to help rebuild the country after the Second World War.

But last year’s jump underlines a more recent trend in European migration, as high unemployment in the peripheral euro zone countries has led more people to look towards Germany’s much stronger economy.

“We have seen higher unemployment in these (southern euro zone) countries,” Gunter Brueckner, at the federal statistics office said.

“At the moment these people see a better employment outlook in Germany than in the countries where they have citizenship. Germany is also looking for skilled workers,” he said.

While the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis has battered southern Europe, forcing governments and companies to lay off workers, the jobless rate in Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, sank in March to a post-reunification low of 6.7 percent.

Almost a third of all those unemployed in the 17-member euro zone live in Spain, while half of Spaniards under 25 are out of work, according to data from EU statistics body Eurostat.

The overall population of foreign nationals in Germany grew by around 177,000 residents in 2011, a 2.6 percent increase from 2010. This was also the largest increase for 15 years, fuelled in part by the lifting of German restrictions on eastern European workers last year.

The population figures, taken from the Central Register of Foreigners, reflect the current population of foreign nationals in Germany, rather than just immigration, and take into account new residents, births, deaths and those adopting German citizenship.

However, Brueckner said there had been some correlation between higher immigration figures from debt hit euro zone countries, and an increase in the population of their respective citizens in Germany.

The total population of foreign nationals living in Germany was recorded at 6.93 million people in 2011, the data showed.

(Reporting by Alice Baghdjian; editing by Ron Askew)

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