Labour market in January 2024

The year starts in the normal way with rising unemployment

31 Jan 2024 | Press release no.6

“The annual rise in unemployment at the turn of the year has turned out to be lower this year. Employment and the demand for labour are also showing a steady trend, with the labour market proving to be stable at the beginning of the year despite the continuing weakness in the economy,” explained Andrea Nahles, CEO of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at the monthly press conference today in Nuremberg.

Unemployment rate in January:
+169,000 to 2,805,000
Number of unemployed persons compared with the previous year:
Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:
+0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity 

As is usually the case at this time of year, unemployment increased in January 2024, this time by 169,000 to 2,805,000. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons fell by 2,000 compared with the previous month. Compared with January last year, there were 189,000 more unemployed people. From December to January, the rate of unemployment increased by 0.4 percentage points  to 6.1%. Compared with the same month in the previous year, the rate also increased by 0.4 percentage points. In December, the unemployment rate determined by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO concept of employment was 2.9 percent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, underemployment, which along with unemployment also includes short-term incapacity to work, fell by 4,000 compared with the previous month. In January 2024, underemployment amounted to 3,609,000 people. This is 156,000 more than a year ago, 43,000 of whom are citizens of Ukraine. 

Short-time work

Before the start of short-time work, companies are required to submit a notification regarding the expected loss of work. According to the current data, short-time work was reported for 46,000 people from 1st up to and including 25th January, which is considerably less than at the same time last month.

The latest data on the actual take-up is available until November 2023. According to preliminary extrapolated data from the Federal Employment Agency, the cyclical short-time allowance was paid for 181,000 employees in this month, after 170,000 in October and 147,000 September.

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) increased slightly by 24,000 in December 2023 compared with the previous month. At 46.09 million people, it was 207,000 higher than in the previous year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, employment subject to social security contributions increased slightly by 6,000 from October to November 2023. According to projections by the BA, in November, the number of employed persons increased compared with the previous year by 217,000 to 35.11 million, with the increase due solely to foreign nationals. In November 2023, 7.63 million people were in marginal “mini job” employment, 149,000 more than in the same month of the previous year. Of this total, for 4.2 million people, this low-paid employment was their only job, while for 3.44 million, it was just a side job. 

The demand for labour

In January, 699,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 66,000 fewer than one year ago. The BA Jobs Index (BA X) – an indicator for the demand for staff in Germany which also takes the number of registered jobs and new jobs into account – remained unchanged in January 2024 at 
116 points. Compared to the same month last year, the BA-X recorded a decline of 11 points. 

Cash benefits for unemployment and persons requiring support

In January 2024, 921,000 people received Unemployment Benefit, 89,000 more than a year ago. In January, the number of people capable of working and entitled to benefits in terms of the Basic Income for Job Seekers (SGB II) was 3,971,000. In comparison with January 2023, this was an increase of 79,000 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 2023 until January 2024, after the traditional placement period, 64,000 young people were seeking an apprenticeship with an immediate start in the market for vocational training and apprenticeships. This is roughly 1,000 more than the same period last year. Approximately 85,000 registered apprenticeships were available, some 4,000 more than in the previous year. In January 2024, 28,000 applicants had failed to find anything, while another 18,000 were still seeking an apprenticeship although they also had alternative options. At the same time, 18,000 apprenticeships remained unfilled.

So far, 3 percent fewer applicants are registered for the new reporting year of 2023/24 than in the same period last year. The number of in-company training positions is 1% lower than the previous year’s figure. In January, the market for apprenticeships is still very busy, however.