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Clouds part over Germany's job market

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Clouds part over Germany's job market
Photo: DPA
11:53 CEST+02:00
The Federal Employment Agency and leading business groups have expressed strong confidence in Germany's job market, with unemployment unlikely to reach anywhere near the heights feared a year ago.

Federal Employment Agency (BA) chief Heinrich Alt said the agency's research department expected an average of 3.5 million people would be jobless this year, well below the 4.7 million that experts were predicting 11 months ago.

“If this development continues in reality and not just in the prognoses, then we have escaped the economic crisis lightly,” he said.

Alt acknowledged there were still uncertainties for medium-sized businesses and problems surrounding the debt pile, but added: “The world economy has picked up again, Germany along with it, and the job market is profitting from that.”

The German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) president Hans Heinrich Driftmann, said he was very happy with the outlook, adding that growth of 2.3 percent this year was a realistic chance for Germany's economy.

“Exports are picking up, companies are investing again,” Driftmann said. “Even if I expect a rise in joblessness over the course of the year, it clearly won't be as bad as feared a few months ago.”

The DIHK expected the service industry would even create 300,000 new jobs this year.

The German Confederation of Skilled Crafts' (ZDH) president, Otto Kentzler agreed the job market was astonishingly robust. In spite of the recession, activity in the skilled crafts industry was largely stable.

“After a marginal drop in 2009, we expect activity to be steady this year,” Kentzler said.

Last week, the BA announced the number of people out of work in Germany had dropped unexpectedly to 8.5 percent in March. There were a total of 3.57 million people without jobs, the agency said, a drop of 75,000 from the previous month. In February, unemployment had been 8.7 percent, according to unadjusted data.

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