German unemployment soarsto new record in February

1st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 March 2005, NUREMBERG - Germany's unemployment rate bounded upwards a half percentage point to 12.6 percent in February, an alarming rise reflecting a record-high 5.216 million jobless - 177,000 more than in January. Releasing official data on Tuesday, the Federal Labour Agency cited the sluggish economy and winter weather for the increase with tough new labour reform rules a key reason behind the increase. Agency Vice President Heinrich Alt said unemployment had peaked, and that March would not bring an

1 March 2005

NUREMBERG - Germany's unemployment rate bounded upwards a half percentage point to 12.6 percent in February, an alarming rise reflecting a record-high 5.216 million jobless - 177,000 more than in January.

Releasing official data on Tuesday, the Federal Labour Agency cited the sluggish economy and winter weather for the increase with tough new labour reform rules a key reason behind the increase.

Agency Vice President Heinrich Alt said unemployment had peaked, and that March would not bring another increase. However he added it was too early to predict whether April would bring any improvement to the jobs picture.

"A further rise in the joblessness numbers will not take place," Alt said of his expectations for March.

February's joblessness was 575,000 higher than in the same month last year. In seasonally adjusted terms, the number favoured by financial analysts, unemployment rose by 161,000 in February. Economists had forecast a rise of about 80,000.  

Agency President Frank-Juergen Wiese said the German economy was still too weak to provide relief to the job market, with cold winter weather helping to drive up the numbers out of work. 

These factors came on the back of new labour market reforms that took effect in January and which form a key part of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's reform agenda.   

People who are currently on welfare benefits but not registered as without a job, have since 1 January needed to register with the labour office and to seek employment in order to continue receiving benefits.

The latest jobless figures elicited the expected harsh criticism from Germany's political opposition camp.

Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Angela Merkel accused the Social Democrat-Greens government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of failing to act to lower unemployment.

The deputy CDU faction leader in parliament, Ronald Pofalla, called accused the SPD-Greens of failure in its economic and labour policies.

"This is a catastrophic day for Germany," Pofalla said.

Michael Glos, head of the Christian Social Union (CSU) faction in parliament, said the mass unemployment had become an dangerous social issue and caused the state's financial debts to explode.

"This is a devastating result of six years of Red-Green governmental responsibility," Glos charged.

But the deputy SPD floor leader in parliament, Ludwig Stiegler, cautioned against painting too grim a picture, noting that the jobless figures reflected the new labour reform laws in which social welfare recipients are now being added to the jobless rolls.

"The normal unemployment is nothing out of the ordinary," Stiegler said.

Ironically, while the German job office was reporting record-high unemployment, the Statistics Office in Wiesbaden said that Germany's joblessness is much lower if International Labour Organization (ILO) standards are applied.

The statistics office for the first time issued labour market data using ILO reporting methods which would show that German unemployment in January was 3.99 million, compared with the Nuremberg office's figure of 5.04 million. 

[Copyright DPA with Expatica]

Subject: German news
 

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