Labour market in May 2023

Stable despite weak economic development

31 May 2023 | Press release no.25

“Despite the weak economy, the labour market as a whole is stable. Growth in employment is continuing, but losing momentum. Unemployment and underemployment have decreased, but by less than usual for May,” said Daniel Terzenbach, Regional Director of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Number of unemployed in May:
-42,000 to 2,544,000
Number of unemployed compared with the previous year:
Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:
-0.2 percentage points to 5.5 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity

In May 2023, during the course of the sustained spring upturn, unemployment fell compared with the previous month to 2,544,000. At 42,000, the decrease turned out to be weaker than is usual for May. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of unemployed people thus increased by 9,000. The number of unemployed is 284,000 higher compared to the May of the previous year. Unemployment would also still have risen in comparison with the previous year without taking into account the refugees from Ukraine, but not to the same extent. In May 2023, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 5.5 percent. Compared to the same month of the previous year, the rate increased by 0.6 percentage points. In April, the unemployment rate determined by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO concept of employment came to 3.2 percent.
On a seasonally-adjusted basis, underemployment, which, in addition to unemployment, also includes changes in labour market policy and short-term incapacity to work, increased by 25,000 compared with the previous month. In May 2023, it amounted to 3,419,000 people. That is 405,000 more than a year ago. If Ukrainian refugees were not taken into account, underemployment would be 56,000 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 current data, from 1st to 24th May inclusive, cyclical short-time work was notified for 45,000 people. 
The latest data on the actual take-up is available until March 2023. According to the initially projected data from the Federal Employment Agency, the cyclical allowance for short-time work was paid to 133,000 workers in that month, after 140,000 in February.

Economic activity and employment

According to the Federal Statistical Office, in April 2023, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of economically active people (according to the domestic concept) rose by 18,000 compared with the previous month. At 45.80 million people, it was 421,000 higher than in the previous year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, from February to March 2023, employment with social security contributions increased by 13,000. Compared with the previous year, in March, this increased by 319,000 to 34.65 million employees, according to the projections of the BA. In March 2023, 7.42 million people were in low-paid “mini job” employment, 240,000 more than in the same month last year. Of this total, for 4.16 million people, this low-paid employment was their only job, and for 3.26 million it was just a side job.

The demand for labour

In May, 767,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 98,000 fewer than one year ago. Seasonally adjusted demand for labour has been declining steadily for one year. Overall, however, the amount of registered vacancies remains at a comparatively high level. The BA Jobs Index (BA X) – an indicator of the demand for staff in Germany, which takes into account both already-existing and newly registered vacancies – fell in May 2023 by 2 points to 122 points. The difference in the Jobs Index to the all-time high in the same month the previous year widened to -17 points.

Cash benefits for unemployment and persons requiring support

In May 2023, 764,000 people received unemployment benefits, 66,000 more than a year ago. In May, the number of persons able to work and entitled to benefits in terms of the Basic Support for Job Seekers (SGB II) was 3,919,000. In comparison with May 2022, this was an increase of 403,000 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 to May 2023, 356,000 applicants registered for an apprenticeship position at the agencies for employment and job centres. That was 3,000 fewer than the same period last year. Of this total, 167,000 young people remained yet to find an apprenticeship position or an alternative in May. At the same time, 487,000 apprenticeship positions were registered, 4,000 more than a year ago. 276,000 of these remained unfilled. The market for apprenticeships is still busy in May. Therefore, these figures only allow for a preliminary assessment of the developments during the course of the current reporting year.