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Economy in Brief

Employment Continues to Expand in Germany; Unemployment Lowest in 6 Years
by Carol Stone May 2, 2007

Employment in Germany rose 52,000 in March, following gains of 46,000 and 76,000 in February and January, respectively. This was the 13th consecutive monthly increase in employment, bringing it up 1.5% (annualized) from February 2006. By comparison over the same period, US employment rose 1.9% (comparable "household" survey) but 0.5% in the UK and -- through Q4 2006 -- 0.9% in France. So German employment growth is quite vigorous by its neighbors' standards. Separate data on job vacancies shows some decline in most recent months, but these openings are more plentiful than a year ago, suggesting that employment might go up still further.

By the same token, unemployment is falling markedly. The ILO definition, used throughout the Eurozone, puts the rate at 6.8% in March, down 1.5 points from the year-ago level and the lowest since April 2001. The locally preferred "registered" unemployment rate was 9.2% in April, sharply lower than 11.3% in April 2006. The latest figure is the lowest since the same in May 2001 and was last lower in March 1995.

By the "registered" measure, the Germans appear distinctive in keeping unemployment down among their youth. The rate, shown in the third graph, for people under 25, was only 8.4% (not seasonally adjusted). The "registered" status means that people are indeed registered with a local employment agency and taking action to find work, at least partially through the placement service of the employment agency. So this is not the same thing as simply "wanting" to work, the concept used in the ILO definition of unemployment. Even so, it is still impressive that young people who look for work according to the registration procedures in Germany do seem to find jobs, keeping their unemployment down. The ILO "labor force" definition, by contrast, does remain considerably higher, at 13.9% in March, not seasonally adjusted, than overall unemployment, 7.2%. There is some good news, though, in recent historical comparison: March 2006 saw 15.2% and March 2005, 17.1%. So the firmer German economy is helping reduce youth unemployment by either definition.

GERMANY (Seas Adj, ex as noted) Apr 2007 Mar 2007 Feb 2007 Year Ago 2006 2005 2004
LFS Employment (mil) -- 39.50 39.45 38.89 39.09 38.82 38.88
Change (thous) -- 52 46 601 271 -52 151
Yr/Yr % Change, NSA -- 1.6 1.5 -- 0.7 -0.1 0.4
Unemployment Rate (%, ILO Def.) -- 6.8 6.9 8.3 8.1 9.1 9.2
Registered Unemployment Rate (%) 9.2 9.2 9.3 11.3 10.8 11.7 10.6
Job Vacancies (thous) 610 621 642 503 564.2 413.1 284.3
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