Germany achieves record low unemployment rate in 2017

Official figures released on Wednesday show that Germany’s unemployment rate has hit a record low.

December’s unemployment rate was 5.5 per cent, the lowest level since German reunification in 1990, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit or BA) said.

In 2017 as a whole, the jobless rate fell to 5.7 per cent or just over 2.5 million people, from 6.1 per cent in the previous year. It’s also the lowest rate in 27 years.

The figures show that more people were employed in 2017 than at any time since reunification at 44.3 million. That was an increase of 1.5 per cent over the previous year’s figure.

The BA said there were 761,000 job vacancies in December, indicating that companies are struggling to find skilled workers quickly.

“The labour market benefited from a broad-based upturn in the economy,” BA chief Detlef Scheele said of the released data. The German economy is expected to have grown by 2.6 per cent in 2017 and it is predicted to expand by 2.5 per cent in 2018, according to the Bundesbank.

The positive figures however offer scant comfort for those whom the economic upswing is leaving behind. The number of Germany’s long-term unemployed has remained broadly unchanged over the past ten years at around 1 million.

The statistics are also flattered by the fact that many of the more than one million migrants and refugees who have arrived in Germany since 2015 have yet to show up in official jobless data.

Surveys of consumer, business and investor confidence point to continued good times ahead — even as Chancellor Angela Merkel struggles to put together a governing coalition in Berlin after tricky September elections.

“Workers and jobseekers have every reason to look optimistically into the new year,” commented Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at state investment bank KfW.

“I see no sign at present that spirited growth in the Germany economy will tail off soon.”

Sola Jolaoso

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