Labour market in May 2024

A genuine improvement is yet to occur

04 Jun 2024 | Press release no.24

“The traditional spring upturn doesn’t really appear to have gained momentum this year. Although unemployment and underemployment did go down in May, they didn’t fall as sharply as they have in most previous years,” said Andrea Nahles, Chair of the of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Number of unemployed persons in May:  
-27,000 to 2,723,000
Number of unemployed persons compared with the same time last year:    
Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:
-0.2 percentage points to 5.8 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity 

In the course of the traditional spring upturn, unemployment fell in May 2024 by 27,000, reaching a total of 2,723,000. This month’s fall was comparatively small, however, which means that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons increased by 25,000 compared with the previous month. The number of unemployed persons is 179,000 higher compared with May last year. In May 2024, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 5.8 percent. Compared with the same month last year, the rate had increased by 0.3 percentage points. In April, the unemployment rate determined by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO concept of employment was 3.2 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, rising a little less sharply than unemployment. In May 2024, it amounted to 3,549,000 people. This is 134,000 more than a year ago.

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 the 1st until the 28th May, which is a quarter less than at the same time in the previous month.

The latest data on the actual take-up is available until March 2024. According to the preliminary extrapolated data of the Federal Employment Agency, the cyclical short-time allowance was paid for 219,000 employees in this month, after 200,000 in February and 189,000 in January.

Economic activity and employment

According to the Federal Statistical Office, in April 2024, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of economically active people (according to the domestic concept) increased by 25,000 compared with the previous month. At 45.92 million persons, this figure is 109,000 higher than it was at the same time last year. According to the projections of the BA, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, employment subject to social security contributions fell slightly, by 3,000, from February to March 2024. In comparison with last year, the number of employed persons in March increased by 134,000 to 34.81 million, with the increase being solely accounted for by foreign citizens. In March 2024, 7.54 million people were in low-paid “mini job” employment, 119,000 more than in the same month last year. Of this total, for 4.17 million people, this low-paid employment was their only job, while for 3.38 million it was just a side job.

The demand for labour

In May, 702,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 65,000 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 May 2024 at 111 points. Compared with the same month last year, the BA-X recorded a decline of 10 points.

Cash benefits for unemployment and persons requiring support

In May 2024, 865,000 people received Unemployment Benefit, 98,000 more than a year ago. The total number of people able to work and entitled to Citizen’s Benefit in May was 4,021,000. In comparison with May 2023, this was an increase of 82,000 people. Therefore, 7.3 percent of people of working age living in Germany were in need of support.

Market for vocational training and apprenticeships

From October 2023 to May 2024, 364,000 applicants registered for an apprenticeship position at the agencies for employment and Jobcenters. That was 9,000 more people than in the same period last year. Of this total, 172,000 young people remained yet to find an apprenticeship position or an alternative in May. At the same time, 469,000 vacant apprenticeship positions were registered, 19,000 less than a year ago. Of these, 254,000 were still available. The market for apprenticeships is still active in May. These figures therefore only allow a preliminary assessment of developments in the current reporting year.