Thomas Koerber, an engineering technician from Viernheim, Germany, was looking for a new job. He found it -- 4,700 miles away, in Canada.Why the exodus?
``I looked around, found a job I liked in Canada, and left Germany within two months,'' Koerber, 39, said in a telephone interview from Calgary. ``If I can get a better job abroad, and if I'm being treated better, I'm gone.''
Koerber is one of 145,000 Germans who fled the fatherland last year amid record postwar unemployment, pushing emigration to its highest level since 1954 . . .
For Koerber, the decision to leave was largely one of taxes. In Germany, where the highest tax bracket starts at 52,152 euros ($66,600), he would have to pay 42 percent of every euro above that level. In addition, the German value-added tax -- a kind of national sales levy -- is 16 percent, which is scheduled to rise three percentage points next year.
``I only get 25 percent deducted from my salary and that includes everything,'' said Koerber of his pay packet in Canada. ``And I'm in the highest tax bracket!'' The goods and services tax in Alberta is 6 percent, cut from 7 percent in July, he said.
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Other German expatriates cite what they say is the over- regimentation of the labor force. ``Life in Germany is totally over-regulated,'' said Christian Kaestner, 38, an attorney who moved from Munich to Cape Town, South Africa, in 1997. ``There are hardly any freedoms left, and you keep bumping into regulations and prohibitions.''