Labour market in March 2023 – weak spring upturn

“The labour market remained robust in March. However, the weak economy is leaving its mark: the spring upturn has been only limited,” said Andrea Nahles, Chairwoman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), on the occasion of the monthly press conference in Nuremberg today.


31 Mar 2023 | Press release no.16

Number of unemployed in March:
-26,000 to 2,594,000
Number of unemployed compared with the previous year:
Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:
unchanged at 5.7 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity 

In March 2023, during the course of the spring upturn, unemployment fell compared with the previous month to 2,594,000. At 26,000, the decrease was rather weak. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of unemployed people thus increased by 16,000. The number of unemployed is 232,000 higher compared to the March of the previous year. Unemployment would also still have risen in comparison with the previous year without taking into account the refugees from Ukraine. The employment rate in March 2023 is at 5.7 percent, as in February, and has thus increased by 0.6 percentage points against the same month last year. In February, the unemployment rate determined by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO concept of employment came to 3.0 percent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, underemployment, which in addition to unemployment, considers changes in labour market policy and short-term incapacity to work, increased by 23,000 compared with the previous month. This can also be accounted for by the increased participation of Ukrainian refugees in integration courses, however. In March  2023, 3,465,000 people were underemployed. That is 357,000 more than a year ago. If Ukrainian refugees were not taken into account, underemployment would be 7,000 above the previous year’s figure.

Short-time work

Before the start of short-time work, companies are required to submit a notification of the expected loss of work. According to the current data on notifications, from 1st to 27th March inclusive, cyclical short-time work was notified for 50,000 people. 

The latest data on the actual take-up is available until January 2023. According to the initially projected data from the Federal Employment Agency, in that month, the cyclical allowance for short-time work was paid to 140,000 workers. Its use has thus not increased recently.

Economic activity and employment

According to the Federal Statistical Office, on a seasonally adjusted basis, the number of economically active people (according to the domestic concept) rose by 31,000 in February 2023 compared with the previous month. At 45.60 million people, it was 423,000 higher than in the previous year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, from December 2022 to January 2023, employment with social security contributions increased by 34,000. According to the projections of the BA, it increased in January by 395,000 to 34.57 million employees compared with the previous year. In January 2023, 7.39 million people were in marginal “mini job” employment, 274,000 more than in the same month of the previous year. Of this total, for 4.16 million people, this low-paid employment was their only job, and for 3.23 million it was just a side job. 

The demand for labour

In March, 777,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 62,000 fewer than one year ago.  Seasonally adjusted, the reported demand for labour has been on a downward trend since early summer last year. Overall, however, demand for staff remains at a comparatively high level. In March 2023, the BA Jobs Index (BA X) – an indicator of the demand for staff in Germany, which also takes the number of registered jobs and new jobs into account – fell by 2 points to 125 points.  The difference in the Jobs Index to the same month the previous year widened to -11 points. 

Cash benefits for unemployment and persons requiring support

In March 2023, 797,000 people received unemployment benefits, 45,000 more than a year ago. In March, the number of people capable of working and entitled to benefits in terms of the Basic Income for Job Seekers (SGB II) was 3,895,000. In comparison with March 2022, this was an increase of 323,000 people. Therefore, 7.2 percent of people of working age living in Germany were in need of support.

The market for vocational training and apprenticeships

From October 2022 until March 2023, 311,000 applicants registered for an apprenticeship position at the agencies for employment and job centres. That was 2,000 fewer than the same period last year. Of this total, 187,000 young people remained yet to find an apprenticeship position or an alternative in March. At the same time, 451,000 apprenticeship positions were registered, 7,000 more than a year ago. 297,000 of these remained unfilled. The apprenticeship market is still fluctuating sharply in March, however. Therefore, these figures only allow for a preliminary assessment of the developments during the course of the current reporting year.