The labour market in December 2021

Seasonally-adjusted fall in unemployment also at the end of the year

04 Jan 2022 | Press release no.1

“At the end of the year, the labour market performed well. The recovery over the last few months has therefore continued. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, unemployment and underemployment fell once again in December. Uncertainties are occurring due to the pandemic: notifications for short-time work rose strongly in December,” said the Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Detlef Scheele, at the monthly press conference in Nuremberg today.

Unemployment rate in December:

+12,000 to 2,330,000

Unemployment rate compared with the previous year:


Unemployment rate compared with the previous month:

unchanged at 5.1 percent

Unemployment, underemployment and economic inactivity 

In December 2021, the number of unemployed persons increased slightly in comparison with the previous month – as is usual in this month – by 12,000 to 2,330,000. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, it fell by 23,000. Compared with December last year, it is 378,000 lower. Compared with December 2019, it is 102,000 higher. As in November, the unemployment rate was 5.1 per cent, or 0.8 percentage points lower than in December 2020. In November, the unemployment rate determined according to the ILO employment concept by the Federal Statistical Office was 3.0 per cent.

On a seasonally-adjusted basis, underemployment, which also takes changes in labour market policy and short-term incapacity to work into account, fell by 32,000 compared with the previous month. In December 2021, it amounted to 3,089,000 people. That was 418,000 fewer than a year ago and 50,000 fewer than in December 2019.

Short-time work

Before the start of short-time work, companies are required to submit a notification of the expected loss of work. According to the current data on the verified notifications, from 1st to 27th December inclusive, cyclical short-time work was notified for 286,000 people. The hotel and restaurant trades and retail, in particular, are once again increasingly reporting short-time work.

The latest data on the actual take-up is available for October 2021. According to the initially projected data from the Federal Employment Agency, in that month, the cyclical short-time allowance was paid to 710,000 workers. Therefore, the take-up continued to fall until October.

Economic activity and employment

Economic activity and employment with social security contributions continue to rise. According to the Federal Statistical Office, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, the number of economically active persons (according to the domestic concept) rose by 43,000 in November 2021 compared with the previous month. At 45.41 million persons, it was 403,000 higher than in the previous year. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, from September to October, employment with social security contributions increased by 37,000. Compared with the previous year, in October it increased by 504,000 to 34.37 million employees, according to the projections of the BA. Marginal employment also continues to recover from the measures that have been applied to control the coronavirus pandemic. In October, it amounted to 7.29 million. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, that means a noticeable increase of 26,000 compared with the previous month.

The demand for labour

The demand for new staff remains at a high level in December. In this context, 794,000 job vacancies were registered with the BA, 213,000 more than a year ago. On a seasonally-adjusted basis, the amount of jobs registered with the BA increased by 21,000. In December 2021, the Jobs Index of the BA (BA X) – an indicator of the demand for staff in Germany – rose by 3 points to 132 points. It is therefore 33 points higher than in December 2020 and is approaching the previous peak. The BA-X has also surpassed the value of March 2020, i.e. the last reporting month before the impact of the initial pandemic measures became clear on the labour market.

Cash benefits

In December 2021, 728,000 people received unemployment benefit, 332,000 fewer than a year ago. In December, the number of persons able to work and entitled to benefits in terms of the Basic Support for Job Seekers (SGB II) was 3,619,000. In comparison with December 2020, this was a fall of 193,000 people. Therefore, 6.7 percent of people of working age living in Germany were in need of support.