German jobless market outshines eurozone as vote looms

31st July 2013, Comments 0 comments

The unemployment rate in Germany, Europe's top economy, held steady at 6.8 percent in July, the federal labour agency said Wednesday, just over half that of the recession-hit eurozone.

With just seven weeks to go until a national election, the agency said the number of jobless fell by 7,000, citing figures adjusted for seasonal factors, considered to be a more accurate snapshot of the health of the job market.

The rate matched forecasts by analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires but they had expected a steeper fall in the number of unemployed, by 12,000.

During the same period and in marked contrast, eurozone unemployment held steady at a record 12.1 percent as economic stagnation and the corrosive effects of the debt crisis continued to weigh on the job market.

The German data marks good news for Chancellor Angela Merkel, who polls indicate has a strong chance of winning a third term in the September 22 general election.

In raw figures, 2.914 million people were jobless in Germany this month, 49,000 more than in June.

This produced a 0.2-point rise in the unemployment rate to 6.8 percent.

"The summer break just starting led joblessness to rise in July," labour agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise said.

He noted that young people after completing their schooling or apprenticeships often temporarily register as unemployed, pushing up the figures.

But he said that healthy economic growth in the second quarter had positive knock-on effects.

"The labour market also benefits from it," he said in a statement.

As unemployment has soared in the debt-mired countries of the eurozone periphery, Germany has enjoyed low joblessness unseen in the country since the early 1990s after national reunification.

It attributes its success to structural reforms implemented a decade ago to make its job market more flexible and shock resistant.

Eurozone economist Johannes Gareis said the figures pointed to smooth sailing ahead despite slowing demand for German exports.

"The German labour market... showed once more that it is doing very well, despite the sluggish growth of GDP (gross domestic product) in Q1 and the slump in the last quarter of 2012," he said in a statement.

"With the jobless rate staying close to a reunification low, we expect the German labour market to remain solid for the rest of this year, supporting domestic demand to be a major driver of growth, against the background of a weakening export performance due to a fragile eurozone recovery and a global slowdown."

© 2013 AFP

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