German unemployment slips in August as recovery progresses

Business

BERLIN (AP) — The number of unemployed people in Germany declined slightly in August, unusually for the summer month, while the country’s jobless rate remained steady at 5.6%, official statistics showed Tuesday.

In its last jobs report before a national election on Sept. 26, the Federal Labor Agency said that 2.578 million were registered as unemployed in August. That was 12,000 lower than in July and 377,000 lower than a year earlier.

It is the first time since 2010 that the number of jobless has dropped in August compared with the previous month, apparently reflecting a pickup after many coronavirus-related restrictions were dropped.

In seasonally adjusted terms, the unemployment rate dropped to 5.5% from 5.6%, the latest in a string of small declines.

Rises in unemployment in Germany and elsewhere in Europe have been moderate by international standards during the pandemic. That is because employers made heavy use of salary support programs, often referred to as furlough schemes, which allow them to keep employees on the payroll while they await better times.

In Germany, the Federal Labor Agency pays at least 60% of the salary of employees who are on reduced or zero hours.

The labor agency said it paid support for 1.59 million people in June, the most recent month for which it had estimates. That was down from 2.26 million in May and far below a peak of nearly 6 million in April 2020.

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