German jobless total soars in April 2020 due to coronavirus

Agence France-Presse
German jobless total soars in April 2020 due to coronavirus


In seasonally adjusted terms, Germany's unemployment rate jumps to 5.8% in April from 5% the previous month

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, Germany – The jobless total in Germany rose unusually sharply in April, official data showed on Thursday, April 30, highlighting the coronavirus pandemic‘s impact on Europe’s top economy.

The jobless total soared to 2.6 million in April from 2.3 million in March, according to data compiled by the federal labor agency BA.

And in seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate jumped to 5.8% this month from 5% the previous month, the agency said.

“The coronavirus pandemic will likely lead to the most serious recession in Germany of the post-World War II period,” BA chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement. “The labor market is also coming under pressure.”

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier on Wednesday, April 29, unveiled government projections of a record 6.3% year-on-year drop in gross domestic product.

On top of April’s increase in the jobless count, some 750,000 companies applied to place 10.1 million workers on government-funded shorter hours schemes, the BA said on Thursday.

Known in German as “Kurzarbeit” and credited with saving hundreds of thousands of jobs during the 2009 financial crisis, Berlin widened access to the program as the scale of the coronavirus threat became clear.

Applications for the scheme do not mean that workers will in fact be placed on shorter hours.

“Nevertheless, this is a never-before-seen figure compared with recent decades, and a multiple of the notifications seen during the great recession in 2008-2009,” the BA said.

Over the whole worst year of the crisis in 2009, firms made shorter-hours applications for just 3.3 million workers.

Meanwhile the number of open positions registered by the BA “downright collapsed,” Scheele said, dropping by 169,000 to 626,000.

Germany, with its aging demographic, has in recent years been plagued by labor shortages far more than by unemployment.

To help cushion the coronavirus blow for companies and workers, the German government has unveiled a massive rescue package worth over one trillion euros.

It includes state-backed loan guarantees, direct cash injections, and schemes to put workers on reduced hours to avoid layoffs.

Such measures are intended to preserve economic structures, in hopes of fostering a post-lockdown rebound that minister Altmaier said on Wednesday could bring 5.2% growth in 2021. –

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