Migration from eastern Europe raises German population to record high

An aerial view shows people at a beach on the shores of lake Silbersee (Silver Lake) during a long-lasting heatwave over central Europe in Haltern, Germany, August 4, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s population reached a record high of more than 83 million people last year, largely because migration, most of which came from eastern Europe, data showed on Tuesday.

Net migration fell to some 400,000 people in 2018 from 416,000 in the previous year, the Federal Statistics Office said. European Union states remained the main origin of new arrivals with net migration of 202,000.

Within this group, net migration was highest from Romania (68,000), Croatia (29,000), Bulgaria (27,000) and Poland (20,000), the data showed.

Record-high employment and falling joblessness have led to a tightening labor market in Europe’s largest economy, with employers struggling to staff more than a million positions and work-related bottlenecks limiting overall economic growth.

An ageing population and low birth rates mean Germany’s workforce is likely to shrink over coming decades, so migrants are considered crucial to help companies find workers, whose pension contributions support the growing number of retirees.

Fewer refugees from war-torn countries seem to be arriving in Germany. Net migration from Syria nearly halved to 34,000 in 2018 from 60,000 in the previous year. Net migration from Africa slipped to 34,000 from 35,000.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Larry King