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The labour market in March 2017

Spring upturn stronger than usual

31 Mar 2017 | Press Release No. 9

"The labour market is continuing its positive growth. With the spring upturn the number of unemployed persons has fallen considerably, employment growth continues unabated and demand from employers for new workers remains high", said Detlef Scheele, Member of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Number of unemployed in March:
-100,000 to 2,662,000

Number of unemployed compared with previous year:

Unemployment rate compared with previous month:
-0.3 percentage points to 6.0 per cent

Unemployment, underemployment and unemployment according to the ILO employment concept

The number of unemployed persons fell by 100,000 to 2,662,000 from February to March. Based on an average of the last three years, unemployment fell by 78,000 in March. Seasonally adjusted, unemployment fell by 30,000 in comparison with the previous month. Compared to the previous year, 183,000 fewer people were registered as unemployed.

Underemployment, which also covers persons taking part in labour market relief programmes and those who in the short-term are unable to work, fell by 18,000 on a seasonally adjusted basis. In total, 3,688,000 persons were underemployed in March 2017, 18,000 more than in the previous year. Compared to last year the increase can be attributed to the broadening of labour market relief measures, particularly for refugees.

In February, the number of persons unemployed as determined by the Federal Statistical Office (Statistisches Bundesamt) in accordance with the ILO employment concept amounted to 1.87 million and the unemployment rate was 4.3 per cent.

Gainful employment and employment subject to social security contributions

Gainful employment and employment subject to social security contributions have continued to grow strongly compared to last year. According to data from the Federal Statistical Office, in February the number of persons in gainful employment (based on the national concept) rose on a seasonally adjusted basis by 50,000 compared to the previous month. At 43.63 million persons, this is an increase of 608,000 in comparison with last year. The growth can be mainly attributed to an increase in employment subject to social security contributions. According to a projection by the Federal Employment Agency, employment subject to social security contributions increased by 74,000 from December to January on a seasonally adjusted basis. A total of 31.71 million persons were in employment subject to social security contributions in January according to projected results, an increase of 743,000 compared to last year.

Demand for labour

The demand for new workers continues to be high. In March, the BA had 692,000 registered vacancies, 57,000 more than one year ago. Seasonally adjusted, demand has remained unchanged compared to the previous month. The BA’s vacancies index, BA-X, an indicator for the demand for labour in Germany, increased by 1 point to 227 points in March 2017. The index is 17 points higher compared to last year as well – continuing to represent a significant difference.


A total of 818,000 persons were in receipt of Unemployment Benefit in March 2017, 48,000 fewer than one year ago. The number of persons capable of work and entitled to benefits in the basic benefit scheme for job seekers (German Social Code II) totalled 4,400,000 in March. Compared to March 2016 this was an increase of 72,000. This means that of the total number of persons of working age living in Germany, 8.1 per cent required assistance.

Vocational training market

Current data for the careers guidance year 2016/17 shows a stable situation.  Between October 2016 and March 2017 411,000 persons registered with Employment Agencies and Job Centres looking for a training place. This is effectively the same as the same month last year. At the same time 442,000 training places were registered. This is 1,000 more than last year. The most common vacancies registered were for prospective retail salespersons (26,900 places), sales assistants (19,300 places) and office administrators (17,300 places).  However, the labour market is still very much subject to fluctuation in March making it too early for any meaningful evaluation.