The labour market in February 2024

The labour market in February 2024 – robust, despite signs of continued economic weakness

29 Feb 2024 | Press release no.9

“The weak economic environment is dampening the overall strength of the labour market. Unemployment and underemployment have recorded increases in February and the demand for new workers from businesses has declined,” said Andrea Nahles, CEO of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) at the monthly press conference today in Nuremberg.

Number of unemployed persons in February:  
+8,000 to 2,814,000
Number of unemployed persons compared with the previous year:    
Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:
unchanged at 6.1 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity 

In February 2024, unemployment increased by 8,000 to 2,814,000. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons also increased compared with the previous month – by 11,000. Compared with February last year, there are 194,000 more unemployed people. As in January, the unemployment rate in February 2024 was 6.1 percent. Compared with the same month in the previous year, the rate increased by 0.4 percentage points. In January, the unemployment rate determined by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO concept of employment was 3.1 percent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, underemployment, which along with unemployment also includes short-term incapacity to work, increased by 15,000 compared with the previous month. In February 2024, 3,643,000 people were underemployed. This is 161,000 more than a year ago, 37,000 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 58,000 people from 1st up to and including 25th February, which is considerably more than at the same time last month.

The latest data on the actual take-up is available until December 2023. According to the preliminary extrapolated data of the Federal Employment Agency, the cyclical short-time allowance was paid for 175,000 employees in this month, after 186,000 in November and 162,000 in October.

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 by 54,000 in January 2024 compared with the previous month. At 45.81 million, it was 235,000 more people than in the previous year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, employment subject to social security contributions increased by 19,000 from November to December 2023. According to projections by the BA, in December, the number of employed persons increased compared with the previous year by 214,000 to 34.92 million, with the increase due solely to foreign nationals. In December 2023, 7.61 million people were in marginal “mini job” employment, 145,000 more than in the same month of the previous year. Of this total, for 4.20 million people, this low-paid employment was their only job, while for 3.41 million, it was just a side job.

The demand for labour

In February, 706,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 72,000 fewer than one year ago. 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 February 2024 by 1 point to 114 points. Compared with the same month last year, the BA-X recorded a decline of 12 points.

Cash benefits for unemployment and persons requiring support

In February 2024, 941,000 people received Unemployment Benefit, 104,000 more than a year ago. In February, the number of people capable of working and entitled to benefits in terms of the Basic Income for Job Seekers (SGB II) was 3,987,000. In comparison with February 2023, this was an increase of 66,000 people. Therefore, 7.3 percent of people of working age living in Germany were in need of support.

Market for vocational training and apprenticeships

At present, some 4,000 more applicants are registered for the new reporting year of 2023/24 than in the same period last year. The number of in-company vocational training positions fell by 11,000 compared with the previous year’s figure. There continue to be more apprenticeship vacancies than applicants. In February, the market for apprenticeships remains very busy.