German Joblessness Unexpectedly Rises Amid Stricter Virus Curbs

German unemployment unexpectedly rose in April, signaling that the labor market is experiencing strains from lockdown restrictions that have been tightened.

An increase of 9,000 put the total number of jobless people at 2.76 million and kept the rate at 6%, according to the Federal Labor Agency. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a decrease of 10,000.

The report suggests that businesses in Europe’s largest economy are facing pressure after nearly six months of lockdowns, despite generous subsidies by the government. Around 2.7 million workers benefited from Germany’s furlough program in March, according to the latest estimates by the Ifo Institute.

Most retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural venues have been shut since mid-November to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The federal government recently tightened curbs for hotspots after local authorities were criticized for not following through on imposing tougher restrictions.

That means businesses -- especially those reliant on face-to-face interactions -- may struggle in the coming weeks. However, Germany’s Bundesbank said in its latest monthly report that it expects the recovery in manufacturing to continue, and the government has lifted its outlook for the year.

Germany’s labor market has generally been more resilient than that of other European countries due to its exposure to industry. Euro-area jobless data are due on Friday and are expected to show the overall rate remaining at 8.3% in March.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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