The labour market in October 2021

The positive development continues

28 Oct 2021 | Press release no.35

“Unemployment and underemployment are declining substantially, employment and the demand of companies for new staff are increasing, and reduced working hours continue to decline. The consequences of the Corona crisis in the labour market are still visible but are shrinking,“ said the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA) [German Federal Employment Agency], Detlef Scheele, today on the occasion of the monthly press conference in Nuremberg.

Unemployment figure in October:

-88,000 to 2,377,000

Unemployment figure in comparison with the previous year:


Unemployment rate in comparison with the previous month:

-0.2 percent to 5.2 percent

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Unemployment and underemployment

In the course of the autumn revival, the number of unemployed persons has declined significantly in October 2021 from the previous month’s numbers; it dropped by 88,000 to 2,377,000. With seasonal adjustment, it has declined by 39,000. Compared to October of the previous year, it is lower by 383,000. The unemployment rate went down by 0.2 percent to 5.2 percent which is 0.8 percent lower than in October 2020. The increase of unemployment due to the Corona crisis has not been compensated for fully but is shrinking increasingly. The unemployment rate determined pursuant to the ILO concept of gainful employment by the Statistisches Bundesamt [Federal Statistical Office] was 3.2 percent in September.

Underemployment which also takes into consideration changes in labour market policy and short-term inability to work, was 3,138,000 persons in October. This was 397,000 less than a year ago.

Reduced Working Hours

Before implementing reduced working hours, companies must report the anticipated lack of work. Pursuant to current data for assessed reports, economic reduced working hours were reported for 93,000 persons from 1 October up to and including 24 October.

Current data for the actual utulisation of reduced working hours are available for up to August 2021, Accordingly, pursuant to prelimiary projected data of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, economic reduced working hours compensation was paid for 760,000 employees in this month, Thus, utilisation continues to fall. In April 2020, it had reached the peak of just under 6 million.

Gainful occupation and employment

Gainful occupation and employment subject to social insurance contributions continue to rise. Pursuant to information provided by the Statistische Bundesamt, the number of occupied workers (pursuant to the domestic employment concept) has increased by 31,000 in September 2021 compared to the previous month after seasonal adjustment. At 45.24 million persons, it was higher by 267,000 compared to the previous year. Employment subject to social security contributions increased by 33,000 from July to August after seasonal adjustment. Compared to the previous year, employment subject to social insurance contributions has increased by 490,000 to 33.97 million employees in August pursuant to the BA’s projections. Low-wage occupation also continues to recover from the measures taken to contain the Corona pandemic. In August, its numbers were at 7.23 million. After seasonal adjustment, this means a significant increase of 26,000 compared to the previous month.

Demand for manpower

The demand for new staff is increasing slightly at a high level in October. 809,000 open positions were reported to the BA, which is 206,000 more than a year ago. After seasonal adjustment, the stock of jobs reported to the BA has increased by 13,000. The BA job index (BA‑X) – an indicator for the demand for manpower in Germany – increased by two points to 126 points in October 2021. It is thus 29 points higher than the level in October 2020. The BA-X also exceeds the level from March 2020, i.e. the last reported month before the effects of the pandemic measures became visible in the labour market.


In October 2021, 711,000 persons received unemployment benefits, which is 339,000 less than a year before. The number of employable people entitled to basic security benefits for job seekers (SGB II [German Social Code, volume II]) was 3,673,000 in October. Compared to October 2020, this was a reduction by 156,000 persons. Accordingly, 6.9 percent of the persons of working age living in Germany required assistance.