“The worst for the labour market lies ahead of us,” Norbert Walter told the newspaper. “There can be no speeches yet calling the all-clear.”
Walter estimates more than five million Germans will be out of work by winter of 2010 and won't begin to sink before early 2011.
Despite his pessimism about the job market, Walter sounded an optimistic note about the overall economy.
“The lowest point of the slumping economy is behind us,” declared Walter, who expects the German economy will still shrink five to six percent this year and will stay stagnant in 2010.
The five million unemployed number has a dark significance in Germany. Unemployment exceeded that sum in the early 1930s as Hitler and the Nazi party were coming to power, though the overall population was smaller. More recently, over five million Germans were also out of work in 2005, when the economy was also mired in recession.