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Economy in Brief

Employment Gains in Germany, Denmark; Decline in Netherlands Is Moderating
by Carol Stone May 19, 2005

Employment conditions in several countries are showing some improvement. After about three years of decline or sluggishness, uptrends are developing in the number of people employed. This is evident in Germany, where seasonally adjusted employment rose 38,000 in Q1, extending the recent string of gains to a fifth quarter. At 39.965 million, the level is the highest since the third quarter of 2002. Before seasonal adjustment, the figure is 39.579 million, up 0.5% from a year ago.

In Denmark, the lack of seasonal adjustment makes the comparisons less obvious, but gains are there, nonetheless. At 2.698 million in Q1, jobs are up 0.7% from a year ago and achieved the highest Q1 total since 1999. As seen in the first graph, the 4-quarter moving average has been rising since Q1 2004.

In both of these countries, it is the service sector where turnarounds are evolving. In Germany, this segment, represented by total employment less agriculture, industry and construction, was up in Q1 by 356,000 from a year ago, growth of 1.3%. Industry employment is still decreasing, down 1.2% in the same time span. This is, however, a slower pace of decline than was experienced from the beginning of 2002 to the middle of last year. Quarterly patterns are more erratic in Denmark, but recent 4-quarter growth rates in service industries have also averaged 1.3%. Industry employment is still weak, but looks to be trying to bottom out, maintaining a tight range around 440,000 for the last year.

Finally, in the Netherlands, total employment hit a new cyclical low of 7.001 million (seasonally adjusted) in February, but rebounded to 7.024 million in March. These data are expressed as three-month centered moving averages, so the good rise reported for March (average of February, March and April) suggests that the April figure alone probably had a more significant increase. As it stands, before seasonal adjustment, the March level is just barely below March 2004, the least weak reading since August 2003.

Industrial Countries
Not Seasonally Adjusted
Mar 2005 Feb 2005 Year Ago 2004 2003 2002
Germany-Total Employment 38579*   38376* 38861 38720 39092
  Industry 7910*   8009* 8018 8139 8356
  Services 27743*   27387* 27708 27379 27392
Netherlands - Employment 7024 7001 7033 7036 7113 7123
Denmark - Employment 2698*   2680* 2720 2693 2712
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