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The labour market in February 2017

Continuing positive growth

01 Mar 2017 | Press Release No. 6

"The labour market is continuing its positive growth. The number of unemployed fell in February, employment subject to social security contributions is considerably higher than last year and demand from companies for new employees remains high," 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 February:
-15,000 to 2,762,000

Number of unemployed compared with the previous year:
-149,000

Unemployment rate compared with the previous year:
Unchanged at 6.3 per cent

Unemployment, underemployment and unemployment according to the ILO employment concept

The number of unemployed persons fell by 15,000 to 2,762,000 from January to February. Based on an average of the last three years, unemployment fell by 7,000 in February. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment fell by 14,000 in comparison with the previous month. Compared to the previous year, 149,000 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 8,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. In total, 3,762,000 persons were underemployed in February 2017, 50,000 more than in the previous year. The increase can, compared to last year, be attributed to the broadening of labour market relief measures to cover refugees.

In January, the number of persons unemployed as determined by the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt) in accordance with the ILO employment concept amounted to 1.76 million and the unemployment rate was 4.0 per cent.

Trends in the unemployment benefit scheme

In February, 1,014,000 persons were registered as unemployed in the unemployment benefit scheme (German Social Code III). In comparison with February 2016, this is an increase of 67,000. However, due to legal changes this is exaggerated by approximately 60,000. A total of 879,000 persons were in receipt of unemployment benefit in February 2017, 51.000 fewer than one year ago.

Trends in the basic benefit scheme for job seekers

In February, 4,374,000 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 February 2016, this is an increase of 63,000. 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, 1,748,000 people were registered as unemployed; 216,000 fewer than one year ago (or approximately 160,000 if legal changes are not taken into account). A large proportion of persons 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 strongly compared to last year. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, in January the number of persons in gainful employment (based on the national concept) rose on a seasonally adjusted basis by 59,000 compared to the previous month. At 43.59 million persons, this is an increase of 609,000 in comparison with last year. According to a projection by the Federal Employment Agency, employment subject to social security contributions increased by 82,000 from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis. A total of 31.88 million persons were in employment subject social security contributions in December, an increase of 735,000 compared to last year. The data in respect of employment subject to social security contributions and gainful employment saw a significant upwards correction in August 2016 because of data processing errors relating to the employment registrations at the start of 2016. It is only now that it has been established that registrations to a large extent had not been accounted for.

Demand for labour

The demand for new workers continues to be high. In February, the BA had 675,000 registered vacancies; 61,000 more than one year ago. Seasonally adjusted, demand has fallen slightly by 1,000 compared to the previous month. The BA’s vacancies index, BA-X, an indicator for the demand for labour in Germany, remains at unchanged at 226 points in February 2017. The index is 18 points higher compared to last year as well – continuing to represent a significant difference.

Vocational training market

Current data for the careers guidance year 2016/17 show a stable situation. The number of registered training vacancies and number of applicants are at last year's level. Between October 2016 and February 2017 370,000 persons registered with Employment Agencies and Job Centres looking for a training place. This is effectively the same as the same month last year. At the same time 416,000 training places were registered. This is 1,000 more than last year. However, in February the labour market is still very much subject to fluctuation making it too early for any meaningful evaluation.