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Immigration to rich countries dropped during the global economic crisis, reversing five years of annual increases as the demand for labor fell, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Monday.

A report showed that 4.4 million people migrated to the OECD's 31 member countries — the world's most developed economies — in 2008. That is a drop of about 6 percent from the year before.

The fall reverses five years of annual increases of 11 percent, the OECD said in its International Migration Outlook 2010.

National data suggest that international migration fell again in 2009.

Unemployment among male immigrants has risen more than among native counterparts because many immigrants worked in industries badly hit by the crisis, such as construction, hotels and restaurants, the OECD said. Still, few are returning home, it said.

In some countries, employment of female immigrants has risen as women take jobs to make up for lost income of their unemployed spouses, it said.

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