Photo: To Vima
Unemployment and the economic crisis have sent Greeks and citizens of other southern European countries to Germany. Greek workers there were 117,744 at the end of May this year, whereas their number was 107,245 a year ago. The increase is about 9.8 per cent but the total number of employees in Germany rose by only 1.6 per cent for the same period.
According to the Greek statistics, the unemployment rate in the country reached 23.1 per cent in May this year. It was in the range of 16.8 per cent a year earlier, which means that 320,000 people were unemployed in one year alone. In addition, Greece is the European leader in the category of unemployed young people aged up to 24 years. The lack of job opportunities is a reality for more than one out of two persons since their rate has reached 54.9 per cent. According to sources from the Ministry of Finance, if statisticians remove the public sector from their research the unemployment rate will jump to 33 per cent. I.e. one out of three employees in the private sector is unemployed.
Analysts' forecasts are even more negative. They expect an increase in the number of unemployed after the end of the tourist season in September and it is not excluded that the unemployment rate may jump to 30 per cent at the end of the year.
Significantly, the number of Greek immigrants to Germany declined slowly but steadily from January 2008 to the first quarter of 2010. At one point, it even fell below 100,000 people. After the outbreak of the crisis, however, the number of Greeks, who decide to seek employment in Germany, is increasing.
Data from the German Federal Labour Agency confirmed the strengthening of the migration flow from the South, where unemployment has been breaking its record levels one after another.
The highest among the residents of southern European countries is the number of Spaniards - 11.5 per cent, which increased by over 5,000 people in May this year compared to the previous one. Next are Greeks, whose number increased by 9.8 per cent, then come Portuguese - 5.9 per cent and Italians - 4.2 per cent more immigrants. Therefore, the total number of south Europeans who moved to Germany was 452,000 in May or 6.5 per cent higher than in May 2011.
The number of Greek immigrants who are unemployed and looking for jobs in Germany is continuously growing. The increase registered in May is around 4.1 per cent compared with same period last year. Some of them had certainly left for Germany in the last few months. The highest number of immigrants in this category is from Spain. However, a 6.4 per cent decrease in the number of migrants from Italy was registered compared to May 2011.
It is believed that some of the new guest workers lived and probably worked in Germany in the past. However, according to the Federal Agency for Labour, the majority of them are in the country for the first time. Labour experts say that the trends observed and the data calculated so far are not sufficient to draw correct conclusions. However, the reasons that make the people from south Europe leave their countries are obvious.
At his press conference yesterday the spokesman of the European Commission expressed the concern of Brussels about the high unemployment rate in Greece. At the same time, however, he denied that the applied programme of fiscal consolidation had contributed to its increase. "The programme is not based only on budget cuts," he said.
In addition to better career prospects, the European North offers another incentive: better social benefits, which the German state provides for the unemployed for a longer period of time. By comparison, they were severely cut in Greece and the unemployed can rely on them only for a year. Statistical data show that six out of ten unemployed do not receive aids, which do not exceed the amount of 450 euro per month.
A peak in the migration flow to Germany was also observed among the citizens of the eight relatively new member states of the European Union, which can freely work in the other ones as of 1 May 2011. Statistics shows that the number of immigrants from Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania jumped by 36 per cent in May this year compared to last year and it means that a total of 94,000 citizens of these countries have settled in Germany.