Unemployment edges higher in November

Unemployment edges higher in November
Photo: DPA
German unemployment rose in November, data showed Thursday, amid signs that Europe's top economy is increasingly feeling the pinch from the Continent's debt crisis, but analysts said the figures were better than expected.

In seasonally-adjusted terms, the German jobless total increased by 5,000 to 2.939 million this month, the highest level since August 2011.

Analysts had nevertheless been expecting a much bigger rise of around 15,000 after similar double-digit increases in previous months.

And the jobless rate — which measures the number of people claiming dole as a proportion of the working population as a whole — was unchanged at 6.9 percent and therefore close to its record lows, the Federal Labour Agency said in a statement.

“The German economy is increasingly feeling the pull of the recession in Europe. Its already shallow growth path is continuing to lose momentum,” said agency chief Frank-Jürgen Weise.

“The labour market has remained comparatively robust so far, but the downturn is increasingly making itself felt. Employment has practically shown zero growth, while seasonally-adjusted unemployment increased slightly in November,” he said.

In raw or unadjusted terms, the total number of people registered as unemployed in Germany slipped by 1,874 to 2.751 million in November and the unadjusted jobless rate was also steady at 6.5 percent, the agency calculated.

While the November data suggested that Germany cannot escape the fallout from a crisis that has pushed many of its eurozone partners into recession, the numbers were better than expected, analysts insisted.

“Today’s numbers provide further evidence that the labour market is gradually losing steam. However, the lack of qualified employees and still strong labour demand in domestic sectors should make the current slowdown a very gradual one,” said ING Belgium economist Carsten Brzeski.

“In fact, if the external environment improves quickly, the slowdown could not only turn out to be gradual but also very short-lived,” he said.

Berenberg Bank economist Christian Schulz agreed.

“After five months of double-digit increases, the lower figure for November may not break the trend of slowly rising unemployment, but it is a slightly positive signal,” Schulz said.

It was in line with a surprise jump in the key Ifo business confidence index in November, pointing to a stabilisation of the economy, he said.

“The labour market is usually a lagging indicator and is currently moving sideways. However, it provides evidence that the German economy is not falling off a cliff and should provide some support for domestic demand,” Schulz said.

The expert said some of the most recent data supported his forecast that the German economy could grow faster again early next year after a weak fourth quarter.

“It could even drag the eurozone as a whole out of recession in spring 2013,” he suggested.

Newedge Strategy analyst Annalisa Piazza also said the data were “less weak than anticipated and show that the effects of the slowing business cycle are still relatively contained in Germany.”

Germany has been spared a technical recession so far and a slight contraction in the economy was expected to remain short-lived.

As such, companies were reluctant to downsize their workforces as it might be more costly to reverse that once the economy started to pick up again, Piazza said.

Postbank economist Thilo Heidrich said that unemployment in Germany was nevertheless set to rise further in the coming months.

“We’re expecting the jobless rate to reach an annual average 6.8 percent this year and then rise to 7.1 percent in 2013,” he predicted.


Jobs in Germany

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