BERLIN Germany has become the world's second most popular destination for immigrants after the United States, attracting many southern Europeans driven from the ravages of the euro zone financial crisis to overtake Canada and Australia.
Germany soared to second place in the 2012 in a survey of permanent migration published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday. It ranked eighth in 2009.
"This really is a boom - without any exaggeration ... no other OECD country experienced such a rise," said Thomas Liebig, an expert on international migration at the Paris-based OECD.
The number of permanent migrants to Germany, defined as those with the right to stay longer than one year, rose by an annual 400,000 or 38 percent in 2012, with migrants from other European countries the main driver, the study showed.
The OECD said immigrants to Germany now had better vocational skills than in earlier years and more were finding work.
Most people came from eastern Europe but an increasing number came from southern European countries, lured by Germany's strong economy and robust labor market, the OECD study showed.
In Spain, Portugal and Greece - whose economies have been hit hard by the sovereign-debt crisis and government austerity programs - youth unemployment has soared, leaving many feeling they have no option but to leave.
(Reporting by Klaus Lauer and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Alison Williams)