German official unemployment falls again

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German unemployment fell further below the politically sensitive three-million mark in June, official figures showed Thursday, thanks to a strong upswing in Europe's biggest economy.

The number of people out of work dropped by 67,000 from May and by 255,000 year-on-year to stand at 2.89 million, the Federal Labour Agency said, with the jobless rate inching 0.1 percentage points lower to 6.9 percent.

Adjusted for seasonal effects, the unemployment rate held steady at seven percent, the lowest level for Germany since records were compiled following its reunification in 1990.

"The positive developments on the labour market continued in June," labour office chief Frank-Juergen Weise said.

Adjusted for seasonal effects, unemployment fell by 8,000. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had predicted on average a larger drop of 15,000, however, and an adjusted jobless rate of 7.0 percent.

Carsten Brzeski, senior economist ay ING, said however that there was clearly a "mismatch" in the German economy, with unemployment falling but private consumption "only slowly getting off the ground."

Data also released on Thursday showed retail sales posting the sharpest drop for four years in May, slumping 2.8 percent from April.

"Of course, German retail sales numbers are volatile and often revised but even with a pinch of salt, the general trend since the beginning of the year is clear: it's a downward trend," Brzeski said.

© 2011 AFP

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