Italian and Spanish jobseekers boosted a surge in Germany's immigration figures, according to official data.

The Federal Statistics Office revealed that Europe's biggest economy saw an 11% increase of immigrants in the first half of the year.

The research found 555,000 more people came to Germany in the first six months of the year than in the same period in 2012.

The Numbers of immigrants from crisis-hit countries Italy and Spain were up 39% and 30% respectively.

But in absolute terms arrivals from Poland and Romania were larger, with 93,000 Poles and 67,000 Romanians coming to the country, compared with 26,000 Italians and 15,000 Spaniards.

In total, Germany saw a net inflow, deducting those who had left the country, of 206,000 - a 13% rise from the first half of last year.

With one of the lowest birth rates in Europe and an ageing population, Germany faces a long-term demographic problem with expected strains on its welfare system.

But the Statistics Office said the data gives no indication about how long immigrants would stay.

Germany's population in its 2011 census was 80.2 million, a figure that has held steady for decades.

The census also revealed there were 6.2 million foreigners living in Germany.

The news comes as Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country is to introduce a national minimum wage.

The vast majority of Germans (83%) supported a minimum wage, according to a poll in October.