"The unfavorable economic conditions have left little trace on the labor market so far," emphasized BA chief executive frank-jurgen weise in nurnberg on thursday. Even though there are risks, the labor market is still in good shape; the strong increase in january is solely due to seasonal reasons. The BA boss also referred to the continuing rise in the number of job vacancies.
The winter weather had the number of unemployed at the beginning of the year again over the three-million mark rise. With a plus of 298,000 compared to december, however, the seasonal increase was surprisingly small. According to the federal agency, a total of 3,138,000 people were unemployed in january. This was 54,000 more than a year ago. The unemployment rate rose by 0.7 points to 7.4 percent. In january 2012, it had stood at 7.3 percent. Without the seasonal effects, which were particularly pronounced in january, the number of unemployed would actually have fallen slightly – by 16,000.
BA board member raimund becker also contradicted the assessment of some experts that the german labor market is facing difficult months due to the weak growth of the german economy. There are currently no indications of a job shortage, becker stressed, citing a survey of 156 german employment agencies. According to the report, only one agency expects unemployment to rise significantly, 83 expect only a slight increase and the remaining 72 expect the labor market situation to remain stable or even improve slightly. "We have no knowledge of any problems coming our way in the next three months," becker said.
Federal minister of labor ursula von der leyen (CDU) assessed the latest labor market data as a sign of a very good and robust labor market in germany. The numbers were within the expected seasonal corridor, said von der leyen in berlin. "Winter weather continues to have the greatest influence on the labor market. " The labor market nevertheless continues to require a high level of attention "because we have a fragile environment". Federal economics minister philipp rosler (FDP) declared that the upswing in employment had continued despite the economic headwinds. Employment development in the second half of 2012 was more favorable than previously assumed.
The federal agency is not currently registering any alarming developments in short-time work either. In november 2012, according to BA manager becker, a total of 4,100 companies with 69,600 employees were on short-time work due to the economic situation – only 4,000 more than in the previous month. Around 3,000 companies secured the option of short-time work in january – they registered short-time work for around 40,000 employees as a precautionary measure. "For a national economy, this is a level that cannot be described as conspicuous," becker underlined.
According to weise, the employment statistics also show how well the labor market is doing. According to the most recent data from december, there were 41.81 million people in work – 289,000 more than a year earlier. The number of jobs with full social security coverage has even risen by 365,000 to 29.39 million (as of november 2012) over the past year.
On thursday, the opposition parties in berlin took a much more skeptical view of the development. For SPD caucus vice chairman hubertus heil, the latest labor market data show that "the crisis in the euro zone is increasingly having an impact on the german economy". Slumps in growth and economic weakness had hit the labor market, he warned. According to the greens in the bundestag, there can now no longer be any talk of a "fast track to full employment"; the black-yellow federal government is rather on a "humpback road". For the left-wing party, the figures prove that the crisis in the labor market has finally receded.