German unemployment hits fresh record low

Just 5% of German workers were unemployed this month.
Just 5% of German workers were unemployed this month.
Image: bombardir/123rf

Joblessness in Germany fell to a new historic low in November, official data showed Thursday, as employers shrugged off a darkening economic outlook to keep hiring.

Just 5.0 percent of workers were unemployed this month, according to seasonally-adjusted figures from the Federal Labour Agency (BA), fewer than at any time since German reunification in 1990.

"The news from the labour market is once again favourable this month," said BA chief Detlef Steele in a statement.

"Companies' demand for workers is at a very high level."

In unadjusted terms, less indicative of underlying trends but more prominent in public debate, the joblessness rate shrank by 0.1 percent to 4.8 percent compared with the prior month, amounting to 2.18 million people out of work.

The hiring spree comes despite concern about stuttering growth in Europe's top economy, which shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter.

The contraction was blamed mainly on troubles in the crucial auto sector, where carmakers' struggles to adapt to new EU emissions tests led to production bottlenecks and discount wars.

But other clouds are gathering on the horizon as Germany's export-reliant firms fret over Brexit uncertainty and the knock-on effects of the US-China tariffs war.

"Employment should continue to rise into next year, albeit at a slower pace than in previous months," said Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at public bank KfW.

A growing shortage of skilled workers is expected to push up wages in the months ahead, further powering domestic consumption, he said.

"However, the outlook for next year will be clouded by the political conflicts that are weakening the global economy."

X