Sunday, January 01, 2006

Germans say bye to Germany.

EU: Heading for better employment pastures.

Germans are leaving their country in record numbers but unlike previous waves of migrants who fled 19th century poverty or 1930s Nazi terror, these modern day refugees are trying to escape a new scourge -- unemployment. Flocking to places as far away as the United States, Canada and Australia as well as Norway, the Netherlands and Austria more than 150,000 Germans packed their bags and left in 2004 -- the greatest exodus in any single year since the late 1940s. High unemployment that lingers at levels of more than 20 percent in some parts of Germany and dim prospects for any improvement are the key factors behind the migration. In the 15 years since German unification more than 1.8 million Germans have left. "It's hard for me to even imagine any more what it's like to have so much unemployment," said Karin Manske, 45, who moved to the United States with her two children eight years ago to start her own business as a consultant. "It's hard to fathom because Germans are such skilled workers," Manske said in an interview with Reuters in Los Angeles. "I love the adventurous spirit and won't go back. You can start a business on a shoe string and work hard to succeed." There are an estimated 70,000 Germans living in southern California, many of whom have arrived in recent years. Earlier tides of emigrants fleeing the Nazis went to Hollywood while post-war waves of Germans filled jobs as skilled artisans in nearby Orange County towns like Anaheim. "Some of my friends moved to Australia, to Switzerland or London and I came to the U.S., where I'm definitely much better off than I would have been in Germany," said Wolfram Knoeringer, 33, an German architect who moved to Los Angeles in 2002. "It's not the best time for architects in Germany," he told Reuters, referring to a flat economy, a stagnant population and shrinking building sector. "There are tons of architects in Berlin with little to do. LA is a far more interesting place."

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