German jobless figures show no sign of 'VW effect'

29th October 2015, Comments 0 comments

Unemployment in Germany remains at record low levels, as recovery in Europe's biggest economy remains on track and no fallout is apparent yet from the Volkswagen scandal, economists said on Thursday.

But the jobless figures could start to rise in the coming months as some of the huge number of refugees arriving in the country begin to sign on, economists said.

The unemployment rate -- which measures the jobless total against the working population as a whole -- stood at 6.4 percent in September, unchanged from August, the Federal Labour Office revealed in regular monthly data.

That is the lowest level since west and east Germany reunited in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year.

In concrete terms, the number of people registered as unemployed in Germany declined by a seasonally-adjusted 5,000 to 2.788 million.

That was slightly more than the decline of 4,000 that analysts had been expecting.

In raw or unadjusted terms, the jobless total decreased by 58,800 to 2.649 million and the unemployment rate fell to 6.0 percent in October from 6.2 percent in September, the office noted.

But unemployment tends to fall in the autumn as students who have signed on for jobs over the summer holidays return to school or college or find training places.

Growth of German gross domestic product (GDP) picked up in the second quarter, the labour office said.

"The latest indicators point to similar momentum in the third quarter as well .. (and) the labour market continues to develop favourably," it said.

Labour Minister Andrea Nahles said the data showed "the labour market continues to be stable and in good shape."

And that was the best possible starting condition for out-of-work Germans as well as people arriving in the country to find work, Nahles said.

But some economists believe the headline jobless could start to rise soon as asylum seekers sign on prior to finding work.

Germany is expecting to receive between 800,000 and a million asylum seekers this year.

"Unemployment will increase modestly due to a combination of the sheer numbers of refugees and the need to raise their qualification levels first," said IHS Global Insight analyst Timo Klein.

"Given the increased number of refugees arriving in Germany, unemployment will rise in the coming months," agreed BayernLB economist Christiane von Berg.

At the same time, no fallout had yet materialised from the pollution-cheating scandal engulfing auto giant Volkswagen, said labour office chief Frank-Juergen Weise.

All in all, "the German labour market is strong as it enters autumn and looks set to remain robust given the solid growth rates," said BayernLB's von Berg.

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© 2015 AFP

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