Merkel expects around 3.6 pct economic growth in 2011
Chancellor Angela Merkel offered an upbeat forecast for the German economy Friday, with growth expected to reach a similar level this year to the rate in 2010, when it hit 3.6 percent.
"It will be comparable this year," she told reporters at a pre-holiday news conference in which she touted her centre-right government's economic growth record.
"Germany has emerged from the economic crisis and is in better shape than before."
Last year's GDP rose by 3.6 percent after a 4.7 percent drop the previous year.
In late May, Merkel said it was "likely" that gross domestic product would rise more than three percent this year, in line with the forecasts of most economists and key institutions.
The Bundesbank central bank expects 3.1 percent expansion in Europe's biggest economy this year while the International Monetary Fund has forecast 3.2 percent growth.
The government's official forecast, reported in April, remains at 2.6 percent but economic data since then have made that prediction seem timid.
Merkel was equally bullish for the labour market, predicting that the average number of jobless would be below the politically sensitive three-million mark.
"The unemployment rate is lower than it has been in a long time," she said, adding that joblessness among young Germans had fallen sharply.
The number of people out of work last month dropped by 67,000 from May and by 255,000 year-on-year to stand at 2.89 million, according to official data, with the jobless rate inching 0.1 percentage points lower to 6.9 percent.
She said the upswing would allow Germany as planned to shape up its public finances while pursuing plans to lower taxes from 2013, the year of the next scheduled general election.
The German economy bounced back strongly last year from recession in 2009 and the recovery has accelerated in recent months thanks to both robust exports and consumer demand.
© 2011 AFP