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The labour market in February 2020

further stable development despite weak economy
28 Feb 2020 | Press Release No. 10

“The economic downturn continues to leave its mark on the labour market, but the situation is generally stable. There was a fall in unemployment and underemployment in February, which was also favoured by the mild weather”, said the Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Detlef Scheele, at today’s monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Unemployed persons in February:                   -30,000 – now 2,396,000

Unemployed persons compared to last year:   +23,000

Unemployment rate compared to last month:   unchanged at 5.3%

Unemployment and underemployment

There was a relatively strong decline in the number of unemployed persons from January to February – the figure fell by 30,000 to 2,396,000 – and this is partly due to the mild winter. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, a slight decrease of 10,000 can be calculated for February compared to last month. The number of unemployed persons has increased by 23,000 compared to last year. As in January, the unemployment rate stands at 5.3%, which was also the level recorded in February last year. The short-term unemployment rate stood at 3.4% in January, as calculated by the Federal Statistical Office according to the ILO short-term employment concept.

The underemployment rate, which also considers changes in labour market policy and short-term incapacity to work, has fallen by 10,000 since last month if seasonal factors are taken into account. A total of 3,337,000 persons were underemployed in February 2020 – 25,000 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 January rose by 18,000 compared to the previous month if the figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors. There are now 45.08 million persons in employment – 241,000 more than last year. This increase is largely due to the rise in employment subject to national insurance payments – 474,000 more than last year. According to the extrapolated figures of the BA, a total of 33.76 million persons were in employment subject to national insurance payments in December. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, this constitutes a rise of 59,000 persons from November to December.

Labour demand

The demand for new workers is still high compared to previous years, but it continues to decline significantly compared to last year’s figures. 690,000 jobs were registered with the BA in February – 94,000 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 4,000. The BA job index (BA‑X) – an indicator of the labour demand in Germany – rose by 2 to 116 points in February 2020. This puts it 17 points below the level recorded last year.

Cash benefits

885,000 persons received unemployment benefits in February 2020 – 50,000 more than a year ago. In February, there were 3,754,000 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 254,000 persons compared to February 2019; 6.9% of people of working age living in Germany were in need of help.

Training market

From October 2019 to February 2020, 334,000 persons applied for an apprenticeship through their local Agentur für Arbeit or Jobcenter – 23,000 fewer than in the same period last year. At the same time, 424,000 apprenticeships were registered – 23,000 more than last year. However, the training market is still very much in motion, and so it is still too early for a more informed evaluation.