The labour market in April 2021

Sustained spring recovery reduces unemployment

29 Apr 2021 | Press release no.18

<! [if gte mso 9]>Normal021falsefalsefalseDEX-NONEX-NONE<![endif] ><! [if gte mso 9]><![endif] ><! [if gte mso 10]><![endif] >“Due to the spring revival, the labour market is developing solidly. The continuing restrictions in many areas are slowing down the recovery, but are not leading to any new pressures overall,” said Detlef Scheele, Chairman of the Executive Board of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), at the monthly press conference in Nuremberg today.

Unemployed persons in April:

-56,000 – now 2,771,000

Unemployed persons compared to last year:


Unemployment rate compared to last month:

-0.2 percentage points to 6.0 percent

Unemployment and underemployment

As the spring recovery continues, the number of unemployed in April 2021 is 56,000 lower than the previous month at 2,771,000. Seasonally adjusted, it rose by 9,000. The unemployment rate fell by 0.2 percentage points to 6.0 percent. Compared to April of last year, the number of unemployed has increased by 127,000. The unemployment rate recorded an increase of 0.2 percentage points compared to the previous year. However, April 2020 was already massively affected by the Corona crisis. Its consequences have amounted to an increase of about 500,000 unemployed persons or 1.1 percentage points in the unemployment rate. The unemployment rate determined according to the ILO employment concept by the Federal Statistical Office was 4.6 percent in March.

Underemployment, which also takes into account changes in labour market policy and short-term incapacity to work, was at 3,562,000 in April. That is 105,000 more than a year ago.

Short-time work

Before receiving short-time working allowance for their employees, companies have to report the expected reduction in their working hours. According to current data on verified reports, cyclical short-time work was reported for 116,000 persons from April 1 to 25. Thus, the number of persons reported has recently dropped significantly again.

Current data on actual take-up will be available until February 2021. According to preliminary extrapolated data from the Federal Employment Agency, cyclical short-time allowance was paid to 3.27 million workers this month. After peaking in April at just under 6 million, the take-up of short-time allowance had gradually declined, but since November it has been steadily rising again with the renewed containment measures.

Labour force participation and employment

With the economic restrictions in the wake of the Corona crisis, labour force participation and employment had decreased significantly, but recently they stabilised at the lower level. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of persons participating in the labour force (according to the domestic concept) rose by 16,000 in March 2021 compared to the previous month, seasonally adjusted. At 44.37 million persons, it was 632,000 lower than in the previous year. Employment subject to social security contributions, whose data only extend to February 2021, increased by 15,000 in this month, seasonally adjusted. Compared to the previous year, employment subject to social security contributions fell in February by 107,000 to 33.52 million, according to BA extrapolations. Marginally paid employment is more strongly affected by the corona-related measures. According to preliminary, extrapolated data of the BA, there were 6.86 million marginally employed persons (in total) in February, 557,000 less than in the same month of the previous year. Almost half of the decline was in the hospitality sector.

Labour demand

In April, 629,000 jobs were reported to the BA, 2,000 more than a year ago. If these figures are adjusted to account for seasonal factors, the amount of jobs reported to the BA has increased by 14,000. The BA job index (BA‑X) – an indicator for the demand for personnel in Germany – rose by 2 points to 104 points in April 2021. This is 10 points higher than the value for April 2020, the month of the previous year already affected by Corona. Compared to March 2020, the last month before the first lockdown, there is a drop of 9 points.

Cash benefits

988,000 persons received unemployment benefits in April 2021 – 35,000 more than a year ago. In April, there were 3,911,000 persons who were fit to work and eligible to receive basic security benefits for job seekers (German Social Security Code II). Compared to April 2020, this was a decrease of 43,000 persons. This means that 7.2 percent of persons of working age living in Germany were in need of assistance.

Vocational training market

From October 2020 to April 2021, 345,000 persons applied for vocational training through their local Agentur für Arbeit or Jobcenter. That’s 39,000 fewer than in the previous year. The decline is not to be equated with a declining interest of young persons in vocational training. Rather, reports are not made because the usual access routes are blocked and cannot be completely replaced by digital alternatives. 190,000 applicants are still unplaced. At the same time, 433,000 vocational training places were reported, 22,000 fewer than a year ago. This decline reflects the restrictions and uncertainties caused by the pandemic as well as the transformation processes in the economy. Of the training places reported, 250,000 were still unfilled in April. However, the training market is still very much in motion in April. Therefore, it is too early to make an informed assessment.