With a growth rate of 1.7% in 2009, Poland was the Eastern European country least affected by the crisis. Even the tragic air crash which caused the death of most of the political elite responsible for this success has not put a brake on the Polish economy. As a result, thousands of East Germans are now traveling east and crossing the river Oder in their quest to find jobs.

According to official figures, there are more than 2,500 Germans working in call-centres, construction and other industrial sectors in the city of Szczecin and the surrounding area, but unofficial reports are citing much higher numbers. A German skilled worker can earn about 1,000 euros a month in Poland, which is not stellar, but better than nothing. A stone’s throw away, in the German district of Uecker Randow, the rate of unemployment now stands at 20%.

This latest phenomenon is further proof of a counter current in the flow of migration. The 1950s and 1960s were marked by the arrival of Turkish and Greek workers in Germany, but now the economic crisis has encouraged German migrants to seek work in Poland and also in Turkey.

Turkish-Germans returning "home"

Young Turkish-Germans are leaving the country where they were born to return to Turkey with their parents. According to a study form the Futureorg Institute in Dortmund, 38% of Turkish graduates would like to live in Turkey. Half of them claim that they "do not feel at home" in Germany, where they believe they are treated like foreigners. Approximately 5,000 of them took the step of emigrating in 2008.

Along with this sentiment of non-integration, another factor that encourages them to leave is the level of discrimination on the job market. According to a study conducted by the University of Konstanz, people with Turkish names are14% less likely to be called for job interviews. This is marked contrast to the situation they would enjoy in Turkey, where the economy has been booming in recent years and there are plenty of interesting jobs on offer to well qualified bilingual graduates.

Management and engineering graduates, who are bilingual and imbued with the German work ethic, are particularly sought after on the Turkish labour market. As a result, "Germany is not only losing highly qualified workers whose education it has financed, but also individuals who could make a decisive contribution to the integration off an ethnic minority", regrets Astrid Ziebarth in a report for the German Marshall Fund.

Resurgence of Greek and Irish emigration

Countries that have been worst hit by the economic crisis are experiencing a predictable exodus of young graduates. Many young Greeks, who returned home after completing their studies abroad, have lost their jobs and are now planning to leave.

During the Celtic Tiger years of strong economic growth, the Irish government enthusiastically reported that new industries had put a stop to emigration and that expatriates attracted by jobs in construction and financial services were returning home. Today, the victims of job cuts are queuing up to leave the country.

Headed for Portugal’s former African colony

Fleeing a rate of unemployment that stands at 10% in their home country, several thousand Portuguese have opted to try their luck in Angola, the country’s former colony in East Africa. Thanks to a surge in oil revenues, the Angolan economy has grown by 16% per year over the last five years, as opposed to just 1.1% growth in the Portuguese economy.

The Angolan boom has resulted in a wider range of professional openings, with notable shortages of qualified workers in the engineering, telecommunications, retailing and banking sectors.

Close to 25,000 Portuguese have moved there over the last three years, and these include small business owners, executives and qualified workers such as bricklayers, electricians and construction foremen. Although they have been marked by the trauma of the colonial period and the fight for independence, the strong linguistic, historic and cultural links that unite the two countries have done much to facilitate the integration of the new wave of Portuguese job seekers.