The labour market in March 2020

Seasonal decline in unemployment before intensification of the corona crisis

31 Mar 2020 | Press Release No. 18

Germany’s economic output has plummeted as a result of the corona pandemic, as public life has gradually come to a halt. The crisis has clearly left its mark on all sectors of the economy. The current worsening of the corona crisis is not yet reflected in the labour market statistics, as data is only available up to 12 March and therefore does not include the latest developments. Detlef Scheele (Chairman of the BA) and Hubertus Heil (Federal Minister of Labour) will provide more information on the current situation at 2pm today. Their joint press conference will be held at the Bundespressekonferenz.

Unemployed persons in March:
-60,000 – now 2,335,000

Unemployed persons compared to last year:

Unemployment compared to last month:
-0.2 percentage points – now 5.1%

Unemployment and underemployment

The number of unemployed persons fell by 60,000 to 2,355,000 from February to March as a result of seasonal factors. The current labour market developments are not yet reflected by these figures, as the statistics were counted before the intensification of the corona crisis. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, a slight increase of 1,000 can be calculated for March compared to last month. The number of unemployed persons has increased by 34,000 compared to last year. The unemployment rate has fallen by 0.2 percentage points to 5.1%, which was the level recorded in March last year. The short-term unemployment rate stood at 3.4% in February, 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 risen by 1,000 since last month if seasonal factors are taken into account. A total of 3,287,000 persons were underemployed in March 2020 – 35,000 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 February rose by 18,000 compared to the previous month if the figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors. There are now 45.10 million persons in employment – 218,000 more than last year. This increase is largely due to the rise in employment subject to national insurance payments – 447,000 more than last year. According to the extrapolated figures of the BA, a total of 33.60 million persons were in employment subject to national insurance payments in January. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, this constitutes a rise of 52,000 persons from December to January.

Labour demand

The demand for new workers continues to decline significantly compared to last year’s figures. 691,000 jobs were registered with the BA in March – 106,000 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 10,000. The BA job index (BA‑X) – an indicator of the labour demand in Germany – fell by 3 points to 113 points in March 2020. This puts it 20 points below the level recorded last year.

Cash benefits

842,000 persons received unemployment benefits in March 2020 – 72,000 more than a year ago. In March, there were 3,747,000 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 255,000 persons compared to March 2019; 6.9% of people of working age living in Germany were in need of help.

Training market

From October 2019 to March 2020, 369,000 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, 447,000 apprenticeships were registered – 27,000 more than last year. As the data reported for March reflects the situation on the training market up to 12 March 2020, the effects of the corona crisis are yet to be accounted for. Apprenticeships were most frequently registered for trainees in retail (29,000), sales (19,000) and office management (17,000). However, the training market is still very much in motion, and so it is still too early for a more informed evaluation.