German unemployment rate rises for first time since June

German unemployment rate rises for first time since June
German unemployment was stable in February with a small increase, official data showed Tuesday, amid the pain of prolonged shutdowns to slow the spread of Covid-19.

The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Europe’s top economy stood at 6 percent, the same level as in January, according to the BA federal labour agency.

However, the number of unemployed people rose slightly for the first time since June, with an extra 9,000 people out of work.

In total, there were 509,000 more people unemployed than in February 2019.

Germany closed restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural centres in November before adding schools and non-essential shops in December as it was hit by a second coronavirus wave.

The measures have since been extended until March 7th, though some schools, hairdressers, attractions and shops have been allowed to reopen in parts of the country.

The shutdowns have prompted employers to rely more heavily on a government-subsidised scheme that allows them to reduce workers’ hours so as to avoid outright layoffs.

Another 500,000 employees were placed on the short-time working scheme in February, compared with 745,000 in January.

A total of almost 2.4 million workers were on short-time working arrangements in December.

"Short-time work continues to secure employment on a large scale and prevents unemployment," BA chairman Detlef Scheele said.

The average German worker saw a drop in real wages in 2020 for the first time since 2007, according to federal statistics agency Destatis.

Germany recorded 3,943 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours on Tuesday and 358 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German regional leaders are due to meet again Wednesday to discuss possible further relaxations of the shutdown measures.


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