The labour market in January 2020

Rise in unemployment mainly due to seasonal factors

30 Jan 2020 | Press release no.6

“The economic downturn continues to leave its mark on the labour market. But all in all, it still seemed robust at the start of the year. There was a rise in unemployment and underemployment in January – but this was mainly due to seasonal factors”, said the Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Detlef Scheele, at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Unemployment rate in January:                    +198,000 – now 2,426,000
Unemployment compared to last year:        +20,000
Unemployment compared to last month:    +0.4 percentage points – now 5.3%

Unemployment and underemployment

The number of unemployed persons rose by 198,000 to 2,426,000 during the winter break from December to January. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, a slight decrease of 2,000 can be calculated for January compared to last month. The number of unemployed persons has increased by 20,000 compared to last year. The unemployment rate has risen by 0.4 percentage points to 5.3%. There has been no change in comparison to last year’s figures for January. The short-term unemployment rate stood at 3.2% in December, as calculated by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO short-term employment concept.

If seasonal factors are taken into account, there has been no change since last month with regard to the underemployment rate, which also considers short-term incapacity to work and changes in labour market policy. A total of 3,325,000 persons were underemployed in January 2020 – 30,000 more than a year ago.

Short-term employment and employment subject to national insurance payments

There has been a further increase in short-term employment and employment subject to national insurance payments, but not as strong as last year. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of persons in employment (in line with the domestic concept) in December rose by 22,000 compared to the previous month if the figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors. There are now 45.44 million persons in employment – 273,000 more than last year. This increase is largely due to the rise in employment subject to national insurance payments – 482,000 more than last year. According to the extrapolated figures of the BA, a total of 33.99 million persons were in employment subject to national insurance payments in November. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, this constitutes a rise of 40,000 persons from October to November.

Labour demand

There is still a high demand for new employees, but it is continuing to decrease compared to last year’s figures. 668,000 jobs were registered with the BA in January – 90,000 fewer than a year ago. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, the amount of jobs registered with the BA has dropped by 1,000. The BA job index (BA‑X) – an indicator of the labour demand in Germany – rose by 1 point to 118 points in January 2020. This puts it 15 points below the level recorded last year.

Cash benefits

888,000 persons received unemployment benefits in January 2020 – 63,000 more than a year ago. In January, there were 3,758,000 persons who were fit to work and eligible to receive basic security benefits for job seekers (German Social Security Code II). This represents a decrease of 245,000 persons compared to January 2019; 6.9% of people of working age living in Germany were in need of help.

Training market – end of second round of referrals and outlook for next autumn

A total of 67,000 registered apprenticeships with immediate starting dates still had to be filled from October 2019 to January 2020. 11,000 of these placements were still vacant in January. At the same time, 64,000 registered applicants were looking for an apprenticeship with an immediate starting date – they were either still on the lookout, searching for a new apprenticeship or looking for the first time. At the end of the second round of referrals in January 2020, a placement had yet to be found for 27,000 registered applicants and another 19,000 were still looking for an apprenticeship despite having an alternative.

The initial data for the 2019/20 vocational guidance year was released in January: There were 391,000 registered apprenticeships in January – 22,000 fewer than a year ago. The number of applicants (296,000) is also 22,000 below last year’s level. However, guidance and placements have only just begun for starting dates in 2020, and so it is still too early for a more informed evaluation.