German unemployment at record low despite refugee influx
German unemployment remained at current historic lows in February despite a massive influx of refugees, as the recovery in Europe's biggest economy remains on track, data showed on Tuesday.
The unemployment rate — which measures the jobless total against the working population as a whole — stood at 6.2 percent in February, unchanged from January.
In numerical terms, the number of people registered as unemployed in Germany declined by a seasonally-adjusted 10,000 to 2.723 million, the Federal Labour Office said in a statement.
That was in line with analysts’ expectations.
At current levels, unemployment now stands at the lowest level since West and East Germany reunited in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall the previous year.
In raw, or unadjusted, terms, the jobless total also decreased, falling by 9,250 to 2.91 million. The unemployment rate eased fractionally to 6.6 percent in February from 6.7 percent in January, the office said.
“The German economy was characterised by a moderate uptrend in 2015,” the office said.
While the most recent economic indicators suggested that outlook is starting to cloud over, “this is not a sign of a serious downturn,” it continued.
“The labour market is continuing to develop positively.”
Labour Minister Andrea Nahles welcomed the data, which she said “provided a good basis for meeting the challenges ahead.”
Analysts were also cheered by the renewed drop in the jobless total.
“It seems that the relatively mild winter weather has supported the labour market,” said ING DiBa economist Carsten Brzeski.
“Interestingly, there does not seem to any noticeable impact from the refugee crisis on the labour market, yet.”
“All in all, the German labour market will remain an important growth driver this year and beyond,” Brzeski said, but warned of big challenges ahead.
“Overall, labour market conditions remain healthier in Germany than in most other countries in Europe,” said IHS Global Insight analyst Timo Klein.
He said that the massive increase in the refugee influx in recent months could push up the jobless numbers in the months to come “due to a combination of the sheer numbers of refugees and the need to raise their qualification levels first.”
But given the administrative lags involved, the data “will only reflect this factor in a significant manner from roughly mid-2016 onwards,” he said.
“Overall, underlying German economic growth will remain robust during 2016 despite lingering eurozone stability concerns, various geopolitical crises with associated risks of enhanced terrorist activity, and economic problems in many emerging market countries,” Klein predicted.