German unemployment unexpectedly fell in November, official data showed on Tuesday, December 1, but restrictions to curb the second coronavirus wave caused a jump in the number of people on short-time work.
The seasonally adjusted jobless rate in Europe’s top economy ticked down to 6.1% last month from 6.2% in October, according to the BA federal labor agency.
Analysts surveyed by Factset had expected the unemployment rate to climb slightly to 6.3% in November.
The BA data however also showed that another 537,000 people were placed on short-time employment between November 1 and 25, joining millions of others.
“The labor market reacted to the restrictions in November – but fortunately not with an increase in redundancies at the moment,” BA chairman Detlef Scheele said in a statement.
Another round of shutdowns introduced in November – including bars, restaurants, hotels, and gyms – saw employers rely more heavily on a subsidized scheme that allows them to reduce workers’ hours.
The November numbers “suggest that the German labor market could go through the crisis almost unharmed,” said ING bank analyst Carsten Brzeski.
“But the rising number of short-time workers, as well as the longer-term impact from the second lockdown, clearly argue against too much optimism.”
The current virus curbs are expected to last into the new year, Chancellor Angela Merkel has said.
The German government has pledged billions of euros in extra support for the companies worst hit by the renewed shutdowns, but analysts have cautioned it may not be enough to prevent a wave of insolvencies.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of unemployed people is 39,000 lower in November than in October.
But compared with the same month last year, the number increased by more than half a million.
Before the coronavirus struck, Germany’s unemployment rate had been at a record low of around 5%. – Rappler.com
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