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The labour market in January 2017

Positive trends at start of year
31 Jan 2017 | Press Release No. 4

"The labour market has got off to a good start in the New Year. The number of unemployed persons may have increased in January but this is only due to the time of year. On a seasonally adjusted basis the number of unemployed dropped," said Frank-J. Weise, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Number of unemployed in January:
+209,000 to 2,777,000

Number of unemployed compared with previous year:

Unemployment rate compared with previous month:
+0.5 percentage points to 6.3 per cent

Unemployment, underemployment and unemployment according to the ILO employment concept

The number of unemployed persons increased by 209,000 to 2,777,000 from December to January. Based on an average of the last three years, unemployment increased by 256,000 in January. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment fell by 26,000 in comparison with the previous month. Compared to the previous year, 143,000 fewer people were registered as unemployed.

Underemployment, which also covers persons taking part in labour market relief programmes and those who in the short-term are unable to work, fell by 16,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. In total, 3,730,000 persons were underemployed in January 2017, 49,000 more than in the previous year.

In December, the unemployment figures determined by the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt) in accordance with the ILO employment concept amounted to 1.54 million and the unemployment rate was 3.5 per cent.

Trends in the unemployment benefit scheme

In January, 1,010,000 persons were registered as unemployed in the unemployment benefit scheme (German Social Code III). In comparison with January 2016, this is an increase of 49,000. However, due to legal changes this is exaggerated by 60,000. A total of 871,000 persons were in receipt of unemployment benefit in January 2017, 66,000 fewer than one year ago.

Development in the basic benefit scheme for job seekers

In January, 4,343,000 persons capable of work and entitled to benefits were registered in the basic benefit scheme for job seekers (German Social Code II). In comparison with January 2016, this is an increase of 77,000. This means that of the total number of persons of working age living in Germany, 8.0 per cent required assistance. In the basic benefit scheme for job seekers, 1,767,000 people were registered as unemployed; 192,000 fewer than one year ago (or approximately 130,000 if legal changes are not taken into account). A large proportion of people entitled to benefits and who are able to work are not unemployed. The reason for that is that these persons are economically active for a minimum of 15 hours per week, look after young children, care for relatives or are still in vocational training.

Gainful employment and employment subject to social security contributions

Gainful employment and employment subject to social security contributions have continued to grow compared to last year, although recently this growth has weakened significantly. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, in December the number of persons in gainful employment (based on the national concept) rose on a seasonally adjusted basis by 24,000 compared to the previous month. At 43.59 million persons, this is an increase of 233,000 in comparison with last year. According to a projection by the Federal Employment Agency, employment subject to social security contributions increased by 22,000 from October to November on a seasonally adjusted basis. A total of 31.72 million persons were in employment subject social security contributions in November, an increase of 332,000 compared to last year.

Demand for labour

The demand for new workers continues to be high. In January, the BA had 647,000 registered vacancies; 66,000 more than one year ago. Seasonally adjusted, demand has increased by 9,000 compared to the previous month. The BA’s vacancies index, BA-X, an indicator for the demand for labour in Germany, increased by one point to 228 points in January 2017. The index is 18 points higher compared to last year as well – continuing to represent a significant difference.

Vocational training market – end of second-round placements and prospects for next autumn

Between October 2016 and January 2017, a total of 68,000 persons were registered as continuing to look, applying again or applying for the first time for a training place with an immediate start date. Of these, 40,000 young people have by January 2017 found a training place or have chosen an alternative. In January 2017, i.e. by the end of the second-round placements, placements for a total of 28,000 registered applicants had still not been found.

Initial data for the start of the new training year in autumn 2017 show a stable situation. At 381,000 the number of registered training places is effectively the same as in January last year. The number of applicants at 331,000 is also at the same level as last year. In January, the labour market is still very much subject to fluctuation making it too early for any meaningful evaluation.