Unemployment drops less than hoped in March

31st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2005, NUREMBERG - Officials had slightly good news for Germany's labour market on Thursday, reporting a 41,000 drop in unadjusted jobless figures in March from a post-war record high a month earlier.

31 March 2005

NUREMBERG - Officials had slightly good news for Germany's labour market on Thursday, reporting a 41,000 drop in unadjusted jobless figures in March from a post-war record high a month earlier.

The Federal Labour Office (BA) in Nuremberg reported an unadjusted figure of 5.176 million, lowering the German jobless rate by one- tenth of a point to 12.5 percent. In February, the office reported a post-war record high of 5.216 million.

The March figure was 628,100 higher than a year earlier.

BA president Frank-Juergen Weise said the decline was clearly lower than for the month of March in previous years. The long winter was a factor, as were the weak economy and the effects of the new social and labour reforms which took effect in January, he said.

He was referring to the Hartz IV reforms under which welfare recipients were added to the rolls of job-seekers, thereby swelling the official jobless figures by several hundred thousand.

Weise also said that for the first time, the jobless data were compiled as of 17 March, so that only part of the usual seasonal relief was reflected in the latest figures.

"Normally we should have had a seasonal decline of 130,000 unemployed in March. But due to the early compilation only around 80,000 were reflected in our statistics," he said.

In an east-west breakdown, unadjusted unemployment in western Germany came to 3.396 million, down 25,000 from February. In the eastern part of the country, the unadjusted figure was 1.78 million, down 16,000.

The office said that seasonally-adjusted unemployment in March rose by 92,000 to 4.967 million. The increase reflected a rise of 75,000 in western Germany and 17,000 in the eastern part of the country.

In Berlin, Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement welcomed the figures showing the slight drop in March. He said the data showed that "we have reached the zenith" of joblessness and predicted the unemployment rolls will fall below the five million mark this year.

"The trend is turning around," Clement stated. "The reforms are working."

But Guido Westerwelle, of the opposition Free Democrats, blasted the data as a "document of failure" by the Social Democrat-Greens government.

"The excuses keep changing but the dramatic situation on the job market remains," Westerwelle said. There will be no new beginning with "patchwork" measures, he said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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