Norway may expect heavy immigration from Southern Europe 

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Over the past five years there has been an ongoing financial crisis in Southern Europe. Still, the effect in terms of immigration to Norway has not really been seen until now.

Norway has experienced a large increase in the number of Southern European immigrants the past year, and statistics suggest that there is more to come.

In Spain and Greece the unemployment rate is now at 26-27 percent. For youth, the numbers are twice as high. Already, this should have resulted in an increase similar to the high rate of Eastern European and Swedish work immigrants, but the effect cannot really be seen until now.

When comparing data from November 2012 to November 2013, work immigrants from Greece with jobs has increased by 49 percent, and tops the list of countries with the highest increase.

Spain is in second place, at 39 percent more work immigrants compared to last year, and Portugal is at a shared fourth place at 32 percent.

Although Spain, Portugal and Greece are not even close to the number of work immigrants in Norway from Sweden, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, the high growth rate still represents a significant change.

“This is a new phenomenon that we will feel the effect of,” says senior advisor in Statistics Norway, Anders Ekeland.

The level of education in the countries by the Mediterranean is quite high, and at the same time the financial crisis has harmed many young adults who have gone straight from school to unemployment. As a result, the immigrants who come are well educated and prepared for the work force. Many of them also have the labor skills that Norway is in desperate need of, such as engineers and kindergarten teachers.

The Catholic aid organization Caritas has helped immigrant workers who come to Norway since 2011. In the beginning, most of the people who contacted them were Polish, but now the majority is Spanish.

Caritas registers 600-800 new people every month, which also indicates that the actual number of Spanish work immigrants may be higher than the current official number.

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