Germany’s unemployment rate falls to new historic low

Joblessness in Germany fell in March to a new record low since reunification in 1990, official data showed Thursday, as good times for Europe’s largest economy continue into the new year.

Some 5.3 percent of the workforce was out of a job this month, according to preliminary seasonally-adjusted data from the federal labour agency, in line with analysts’ predictions.

That was 0.1 percentage points lower than in February and a new all-time low for post-reunification Germany.

In unadjusted terms, less indicative of underlying trends but more prominent in public debate, unemployment fell 0.2 points from February’s level, to 5.5 percent.

Low levels of unemployment reflect strong economic performance in Germany, which booked growth of 2.2 percent last year, its fastest pace since 2011.

A group of government economic advisors predicted earlier this month that the economy would expand even faster this year.

Fewer people out of work has meant more consumers with money to spend at home supporting the economy, as a broader global upturn has increased foreign demand for German products.

The flip side of the country’s status as a global export powerhouse — with exports outweighing imports by 245 billion euros ($302 billion) last year — is particular vulnerability to trade war.

Aggressive rhetoric on trade from Donald Trump’s White House rattled measures of investor and business confidence this month as the threat of a tit-for-tat border tax duel between the United States and the European Union loomed.

But the EU has secured a temporary exemption from US tariffs on imports of key industrial metals steel and aluminium, giving the German economy at least a few more weeks’ breathing room.


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