Desperate for Jobs: Crisis Drives More Southern Europeans to Germany

There has been a major jump in the number of southern Europeans working in Germany over the last year, the Federal Employment Agency reported on Thursday. Experts view it as a sign that the crisis is triggering a flood of jobseekers who are headed to the more prosperous north.

An eldery woman begs outside the Bank of Greece headquarters in Athens in February. Zoom
AFP

An eldery woman begs outside the Bank of Greece headquarters in Athens in February.

Germany is becoming an increasingly attractive location for jobseekers from Southern Europe, particularly to unemployed Greeks and Spaniards flocking north in recent months in search of work, a study released on Thursday by Germany's Federal Employment Agency (BA) has found.

According to the study, in late May, there was a significantly larger number of people with a Greek, Spanish, Portuguese or Italian passports working in Germany than there was a year ago. The figure climbed to 452,000, or a year-on-year increase of more than 6.5 percent, which is considerably above average. In that same time period, the total labor force only increased by some 1.6 percent.

The figures come from employment data compiled by the agency, some of which are broken down according to nationality. They show that by the end of May, 117,700 Greeks, 46,000 Spaniards, 55,600 Portuguese and 232,800 Italians had jobs in Germany. The agency notes, however, that some of the foreign nationals included in these statistics might have already been living in Germany, but only found a job in this specific period. The majority, however, have probably recently immigrated, it added.

The risk of losing one's job also varies widely for workers from Southern Europe, the figures suggest. While the number of unemployed Italians saw an above-average year-on-year drop of 6.4 percent in June, the number of Spaniards looking for a job in the same period rose by 10.5 percent, to reach almost 8,000. Greeks registered as jobseekers rose by 4.1 percent, to 26,800, in that period, while the number of Portuguese in a similar position remained almost unchanged at 8,500.

Rising Unemployment in Greece

Meanwhile, the number of jobless in Greece continues to rise. According to official Greek statistics released on Thursday, unemployment reached a record 23.1 percent in May, some 6.3 percentage points higher than a year before. More than 1.15 million people in the nation of fewer than 11 million are without work, and the situation is particularly dire for people younger than 24, for whom the unemployment rate is 54.9 percent.

People without work in Greece are only eligible to receive unemployment benefits for up to a year, after which no support is provided. On Thursday, the two largest union associations for private and public workers -- the GSEE and ADEDY, respectively -- warned of a "social explosion."

But there is one glimmer of hope for the Greek economy. Official statistics indicate that manufacturing rose in June for the first time after more than three years of contraction. Between May and June, companies reportedly increased production by 0.3 percent.

This slight boost in production can be attributed primarily to the mining sector, which saw a year-on-year increase in June of 18.9 percent. Energy companies also saw a 10.9 percent jump in production. However, traditional industry -- including the manufacturers of consumer-, investment- and intermediate-goods -- saw a drop of 4.3 percent.

In total, industry contributes about 15 percent of the country's economic performance.

jsw -- with wire reports

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