Immigration to Germany from debt-wracked euro states soars

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Germany saw a sharp rise in immigration in the first half of the year, due mainly to newcomers from crisis-wracked European states, according to official statistics released Thursday.

The eurozone's top economy had a 19 percent rise in new arrivals at 435,000 people, the federal statistics office said in a statement.

"What is remarkable here is the strong increase in immigration from EU countries that have been particularly hard hit by the financial and debt crisis," it said.

Eight-four percent more Greeks moved to Germany in the first half than in the same period in 2010 and 49 percent more Spaniards.

More recent members of the EU, mainly former communist countries in eastern Europe, also sent about one-third more citizens to live in Germany than a year back, due largely to a relaxation of labour market restrictions.

Other European countries, Asia and the Americas boosted emigration to Germany 11 percent each, while Africa was responsible for a three-percent rise.

With unemployment falling to 6.4 percent in November, its lowest level since reunification more than two decades ago, and around three-percent economic growth, Germany has weathered the eurozone crisis largely unscathed.

It is actively recruiting skilled labour abroad to plug yawning gaps in the workforce and offset a steep population decline caused by a chronically low birth rate.

© 2011 AFP

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