More migrants from Eastern Europe and countries hit by the Euro crisis are receiving German Hartz IV payments than ever before, the Bild newspaper reported on Tuesday.
In April this group topped 300,000 for the first time – a rise of 21.6 percent over the same month last year. The paper cited as yet unpublished figures from the Federal Labour Office (BfA).
Just under 4.5 million people receive jobless benefits in Germany.
The paper looked at 14 EU countries – the ten Eastern European members as well as crisis nations Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain. Of these, Italy had the highest number of citizens on jobless benefits in Germany – a total of 66,458 – closely followed by Poland, Greece and Bulgaria.
The German government plans move to tighten rules for EU immigrants in the next legislative period.
Harsher punishments are being considered for those found abusing the German benefits system – including expelling people from the country in extreme cases and refusing them re-entry.
Other new rules may include limiting EU citizens to a six month initial stay in Germany to search for work, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said on Tuesday.
The figures come two months after the advocate general of the European Court of Justice suggested Germany would be allowed to reject applications for Hartz IV from foreigners from other EU countries to prevent abuse of the system and “welfare tourism” in an ongoing court case.
However statistics released in honour of World Youth Day show that unemployment amongst workers under 25 is lowest in Germany at 7.8 percent. These are the lowest figures the BfA has ever recorded.
"This is a testament to the dual vocational training system," said BfA chairman Frank-J. Weise. "It eases the transition for young people into their working years and is a solid foundation for their career path."
The European-wide youth unemployment is at 22.2 percent.
Youth are hardest pressed in Greece and Spain, with unemployment in those countries in the under 25 population topping 50 percent. Still, the current youth unemployment rate in the EU has improved by more than eight percent.
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