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German Jobless Rate Rises in Dec.

January 5, 2000

NUREMBERG, Germany (AP) _ The German unemployment rate rose to 10.3 percent in December from 10 percent a month earlier as the number of those without jobs rose above the 4 million mark.

The Federal Labor Office attributed the increase reported Wednesday to seasonal factors.

Nationwide, the number of unemployed was up from 3.9 million in November. But that was 150,100 less than in December 1998, when the unadjusted unemployment rate stood at 10.9 percent.

Adjusted for seasonal factors, such as holiday closings and winter weather, the number of German jobless fell 68,000 in December from November. Economists had expected a 15,000 decrease.

The Federal Labor Office said the figures showed the German job market is continuing to improve, especially in western Germany.

But Herbert Hax, chairman of the government’s council of economic advisors, noted that Germany’s economic growth was trailing that of its neighbors and due mostly to improved demand for German exports.

He urged unions to avoid making excessive wage demands in upcoming contract talks. ``That’s the greatest risk right now for the economy and the labor market,″ he told InfoRadio Berlin.

Chanceller Gerhard Schroeder has made cutting unemployment his No. 1 priority, but his centerpiece ``alliance for jobs″ roundtable with labor, business and government has produced few tangible results so far.

The rate of unemployed held steady at 8.6 percent in western Germany, where most of the country’s economic output is produced, while improving slightly in the former communist east, dipping to 17.7 percent from 18.2 percent in November.

Labor Office president Bernhard Jagoda repeated a previous forecast that joblessness in 2000 will fall by about 200,000, putting the annual average below 4.0 million.

In 1999, an average of nearly 4.1 million Germans were out of work, roughly 180,000 fewer than in 1998. That put last year’s average unemployment rate at 10.5 percent, compared with 11.1 percent a year earlier.

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