German Unemployment Resumes Decline Despite Even Longer Curbs
(Bloomberg) -- German joblessness declined in March, signaling economic resilience even as thousands of businesses remain affected by recently-extended pandemic restrictions.
The drop of 8,000 put the total number of unemployed people at 2.75 million and kept the rate at 6%, according to the Federal Labor Agency. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a drop of 3,000.
“The labor market experienced a noticeable spring revival -- despite rising infections and persistent curbs for some sectors of the economy,” agency chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement. “Overall though, the labor market continues to show significant evidence of the year-old crisis.”
Government subsidies have allow companies to hold on to employees. Nearly 3 million workers benefited from the country’s furlough program in February, according to the latest estimates by the Ifo Institute.
Germany has been in a lockdown since the middle of November, with most retail stores, restaurants, bars, gyms and cultural venues shut to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The government recently extended those curbs until at least April 18 after a surge in infections, and Chancellor Angela Merkel has criticized regional officials for not following through on imposing tougher restrictions.
That means companies and their staff may well continue to face pressure in the coming weeks, before a recovery can take hold. In a sign that they’re optimistic about the outlook for the second half, economic confidence in Germany as measured by the European Commission rose by the most on record this month.
German employment has been more resilient than in other European countries due to a greater reliance of the economy on manufacturing. Euro-area jobless data are due to be released in just under a week on April 6.
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