[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March, 2005, 12:19 GMT
German jobless rate at new record
Unemployment in Germany is at record levels
More than 5.2 million Germans were out of work in February, new figures show.

The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe's biggest economy since the 1930s.

The news comes as the head of Germany's panel of government economic advisers predicted growth would again stagnate.

Speaking on German TV, Bert Ruerup said the panel's earlier forecast of 1.4% was too optimistic and warned growth would be just 1% in 2005.

"Do something!"

The growth warning triggered anger even from government supporters, who said the Social Democrat-Green administration of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had to do more.

"We are not going to create more jobs with growth of 1%," Harald Schartau, head of the Social Democrats in the northern state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told ZDF television.

"We say to our friends in Berlin, you have to persevere and create more impulse for growth."

Many German newspapers had the figures a day ahead, splashing them with angry headlines on Tuesday morning.

Gerhard Schroeder
Mr Schroeder has staked his career on labour reforms
The mass-market Bild tabloid used red type to splash the phrase, "Do something!" across its front page.


The German government insists its efforts to tackle the stubbornly-high levels of joblessness with a range of labour market reforms are only just getting under way.

The core is the "Hartz-IV" programme introduced in January to shake up welfare benefits and push people back into work - even if some of the jobs are heavily subsidised.

According to the Federal Labour Office, the changes have contributed to the rise in the official unemployment rate.

Some three quarters of February's 180,000 additions to the jobless total were the result of January's reclassification, it said - although it acknowledged the weak economy and cold weather hitting the construction industry were also to blame.

Different numbers

Still, some measures suggest the picture is not quite so bleak.

For one thing, January's reclassification boosted the jobless total by more than 500,000 that month, as many benefit claimants were added to the list for the first time thanks to the new rules.

Moreover, adjustments for seasonal changes give an overall unemployment level of 4.875 million people or 11.7% - admittedly up 0.3 percentage points from the previous month.

And the most internationally-accepted methodology, designed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), says Germany had 3.97 million people out of work in January.

The ILO defines an unemployed person as someone who in the previous four weeks had actively looked for work they could take up immediately.

ILO-based figures also suggest that 14,000 new net jobs were created that month, taking the number of people employed to 38.9 million.

Germany's economy fights red tape
21 Feb 05 |  Business
German growth goes into reverse
15 Feb 05 |  Business
Five million Germans out of work
02 Feb 05 |  Business

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific