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2017: Rise in unemployment only due to seasonal reasons
Unemployment figures in Germany
|Compared with other
Germany seems to have low
unemployment figures. But the lack of jobs is still a big problem as
there are some German regions that have much more higher unemployment
rates than others. In contrast, there are some sectors of the German
economy where employers
have difficulties to find adequate staff.
In January 2017, approximately 2.777 million men and women were without work in Germany, a country with a population of more than 82 million people. The number of unemployed men and women rose by 209,000 compared with the previous month and fell by 143,000 compared with January 2016. The official unemployment rate provided by the German Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) is 6.3%. Since January 2014, the monthly unemployment rate is lower than the rate in the corresponding month a year ago.
The methods used by the German employment agency are different from the standards used by the International Labour Organization (ILO). If the concept of the ILO is used, there are 1.54 million unemployed job seekers in Germany in December 2016, the unemployment rate is 3.5% according to the ILO standards.
"The labour market has started well in the new year. In January, the number of unemployed persons has risen only for season reasons. Seasonally adjusted, there was a decline", Frank-J. Weise, chairman of the board of the Federal Employment Agency, says while presenting the figures for the first month of 2017.
|Seasonally adjusted, there were
143,000 less people unemployed than in January 2016.
According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 43.59 million people were in gainful employment in Germany in December 2016 (a plus of 233,000 compared with December 2015). In November 2016, 31.72 million people had a job that was subject to social insurance contributions, the agency told (a plus of 332,000 compared with last year).
In January 2017, the Federal Employment Agency registered 647,000 job vacancies, 66,000 more than a year ago.
The underemployment was at 3.73 million people, 49,000 more than last year's January. "Underemployed" people are not only "unemployed" people but for example also persons who take part in employment market policy relieving measures or job-seekers who have a part-time work (but workers with reduced working-hours are not included). (Source: press release of the Federal German Employment Agency of 2017-01-31).
Who is unemployed?
In Germany, a job seeking person is unemployed if she or he is able to work, does not work 15 hours a week or longer and is registered as an "unemployed" person at the local labour agency's office or job centre. The unemployed person must look for an occupation that lasts at least 15 hours a week. Further on, only a person who has not yet reached the retirement age and is not on sick leave can be "unemployed". The unemployed must be willing to work and accept any work, he or she has not the right to accept only a work that is similar to the previous one. An unemployed person who is 58 years old or more and receives welfare benefits for at least 12 months and has not got a job offer by the labour agency will not be counted as "unemployed".
Picture above: View of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (CC BY-SA 3.0, Berthold Werner). In January 2017, the unemployment rate in the capital of Germany was 9.8%. (Source: Press release of the Regionaldirektion Berlin-Brandenburg of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit of 2017-01-31).
Picture above: The headquarters
of the German Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg. (CC BY-SA, Achates).
social security benefits
for unemployed persons
In Germany, there are principally two different social security systems for unemployed workers. The first one is an obligatory insurance system that includes all working persons who earn a wage of more than 450 euro a month. Contributions to the insurance against unemployment are paid by employers and employees half. In 2016, the monthly sum for this insurance is 3.0% of the monthly gross income. For example: someone gets a gross wage of 1,000 euro a month. The employee has to pay 15 € a month and the employer too. The sum paid by the employer is additional to the gross income, the employer transfers the entire contribution to the social security authorities. For receiving unemployment money, an unemployed person must have paid contributions for at least twelve months in the last two years. The period for which unemployment money will be paid depends on the time an unemployed person has paid contributions. If someone has paid contributions for not longer than twelve months, the benefit will expire after six months, if someone has paid contributions for 24 months, the beneficiary will get this support for a maximum of twelve months. Longer periods are applicable for older unemployed men and women. The unemployment money will replace 60% of the net income of the last twelve months before unemployment (it will be 67% if the unemployed person or his or her partner cares for a child).
The other social security benefit for unemployed people is the Arbeitslosengeld II ("unemployment money 2") which has replaced the former welfare (in German: "Sozialhilfe") for those who are mentally and physically able to work. Therefore the unemployment benefit derived from the unemployment insurance system is often called "Arbeitslosengeld I" (unemployment money 1). "Arbeitslosengeld II" is being financed by the general tax revenue. For a single person, it amounts to 409 euro in 2017 or, for partners, to 368 euro for each partner. Children living with their parents receive 237 euro until they are six years old, 291 euro until 14 years and 311 euro until 18 years. Children from 18 to 25 years staying with their parents get 327 euro. Most other incomes will be taken into account with "unemployment money 2", especially child benefit (in German: "Kindergeld"). In addition, the costs for appropriate housing including heating will be covered. Both unemployment benefits will be paid if an unemployed man or woman gets only little unemployment money that does not secure his livelihood.
In January 2017, 871,000 unemployed persons were supported financially by the unemployment insurance system and 1.767 million jobless persons by the system of unemployment money 2, the former welfare. This means that the latter system cares for more than 63% of the unemployed people in Germany. Family members of these beneficiaries are also supported. All together, 4.343 million men and women between 15 and 65 years who were capable of earning depended on "Arbeitslosengeld II", the former welfare. The number of unemployed persons supported financially by the unemployment insurance system decreased by 66,000 compared with last year's January. In the other system the number of unemployed persons fell by approximately 192,000 compared with the last year. Not all persons receiving the basic security benefits are registered as "unemployed" because some of these beneficiaries are economically active, look after small children, care for relatives or are still in vocational training or education.
Europe in recent months (according to Eurostat, the
office of the European Union, seasonally adjusted)
The ways Eurostat uses for calculating the unemployment rate differ from the standards used by the German Federal Employment Agency (see below). It is estimated that 20.065 million men and women were unemployed in the European Union in December 2016. The number of unemployed persons fell by 159,000 compared with November 2016 and fell by 1.839 million compared with December 2015. The rate of 8.2% is still the lowest rate in the EU28 since February 2009.
In the last twelve months there is an increase in unemployment in four and a decrease in twenty-four of the member states.
Younger job seekers: In the entire EU, 4.219 million young people under 25 years of age were unemployed. The average youth unemployment rate was 18.6%. The highest rates were found in Greece with 44.2% (in October 2016), in Spain with 42.9% and in Italy with 40.1%, followed by Cyprus with 32.8%, then Croatia with 28.0%, Portugal with 26.4% and France with 26.2%. Germany had the lowest rate with 6.5%. (Source: Press release of Eurostat nr. 22 of 2017-01-31).
for the entire year 2016 in Germany
In January 2017, the German Federal Labour Agency published the unemployment figures for the entire year 2016. In that year, an average of 2.691 million persons were registered as unemployed in Germany, the average unemployment rate was 6.1% (compared with 2015: a decline of 104,000 and a decline of 0.3 percentage points). The number of those in gainful employment rose to its highest level since German reunification (43.49 million, a plus of 429,000). In June 2016, 31.37 million men and women had a job that was subject to social insurance contributions, 602,000 more than the previous year. "The labour market developed favourably in 2016, the number of unemployed fell again. Employment rose especially in the first half of 2016 and once again the demand of enterprises for new employees increased", Frank-J. Weise said, chairman of the Executive Board of the German Employment Agency. On average, 655,000 vacancies were registered with the agency in 2016. (Source: Press release nr. 2 of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit of 2017-01-03).
Unemployment among foreigners
Unemployment among foreigners is higher than among Germans. In January 2017, 693,000 foreigners were registered as "unemployed" which means that nearly every fourth unemployed person is not a German (24.9%).
In the last twelve months, the number of unemployed refugees from outside Europe has risen by 86%. (Source: Bundesagentur für Arbeit: Der Arbeits- und Ausbildungsmarkt in Deutschland - Monatsbericht, Januar 2017, Nürnberg 2016, page 15).
According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 10.5% of the German population were foreigners in 2015. (Source: Press release of the German Federal Statistical Office nr. 295/16 of 2016-08-26).