German unemployment remains at all-time low

By AFP 1 March 2017

Unemployment in Germany hung on at an all-time low in February, official data showed Wednesday, pointing to strength in Europe's largest economy even as political uncertainty clouds future prospects.

The unemployment rate stood at 5.9 percent in February, the same level as in January and its lowest level since German reunification in 1990, the Federal Labour Agency said in a statement.

“Developments on the labour market have been positive again,” labour office chief Frank-Juergen Weise said in a statement.

“Businesses’ demand for new workers remains at a high level.”

In seasonally-adjusted figures, the number of people registered as out of work declined by 14,000 in February. 

Germany “is driving on strong domestic demand. Consumption and government consumption (are being) driven by investments,” analyst Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank told AFP, predicting that “the labour market will continue like this for the rest of the year.”

The February unemployment data follow on the heels of more sobering indicators for Europe’s largest economy in recent weeks, with consumer, business, and investor surveys all showing that Germans are worried about the future. 

A sudden pick-up in inflation in the euro single currency area, the unpredictable policies of US President Donald Trump, Brexit, and a series of upcoming elections in Europe have all been blamed for the angst.

A political upset in neighbouring France and the Netherlands or a clampdown on trade by the US could inflict pain on Germany, whose exports outweighed imports last year by 253 billion euros ($267 billion). 

But even if any of those risks hit exports, “obviously this will show up in labour market figures, but with a delay,” Brzeski said.

“The impact of import tariffs from Mr Trump would only show up in labour market data in Germany towards the end of the year.” DM


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