Spanish population drops dramatically as people flee economic crisis
First time nation has experienced population decline since 1857, when records began
Since the first time since population figures have been recorded in this country, Spain's population has actually dropped on account on the ongoing eurozone crisis and high unemployment rate. The National Statistics Institute reports that the number of residents fell by 206,000 to 47.1million, a figure entirely accounted for by foreign residents.
The biggest fall in registered foreign residents in Spain was among South Americans, in particular Ecuadoreans and Colombians, the statistics agency said.
During the years of 2000 and 2010, the immigrant population swelled from 924,000 to 5.7 million.
Construction came to a standstill after the housing bubble burst. The Spanish government then tried to meet the strict deficit cutting targets as imposed by Brussels, further straining the economy.
With unemployment here at 26 percent - more than one in four jobless, many immigrants have returned home.
The biggest fall in registered foreign residents was among South Americans, in particular Ecuadoreans and Colombians, the statistics agency said.
"There was extraordinary growth (in immigrants) from 2000 to 2009, which is reversing quickly due to the economic crisis," demographer Albert Esteve of the Barcelona Centre for Demographic Studies told Spain National Radio. "Spain is less attractive because there are no jobs."
Spain's two largest groups of immigrants, Romanians and Moroccans, both saw declines last year.
In addition to migrant workers leaving for home, there are many Spaniards are also leaving to look for work abroad. The youth unemployment rate is higher than 50 percent.
The population of native Spaniards grew last year by 10,000, a smaller increase than in recent years, only minimally offsetting a fell of 216,000 in the number of registered foreigners.
For Latin Americans seeking work abroad, traditional magnets like the United States and Spain are losing their appeal because of weak economies, according to a re cent report. Instead, more and more are looking to countries such as Canada, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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