The early onset of winter with freezing cold temperatures and snow storms drove more German construction workers to job centres in December than usual.
As a result unemployment in Europe’s largest economy unexpectedly went up for the first time in 17 months.
The total not adjusted for season factors – which is the most commonly used figure in Germany – rose to 3.16 million from November’s 2.93 million but it is still much lower that in December 2009, when it was 3.28 million.
The jobless rate was 7.2 percent of the working population, up from November’s seven percent and a big improvement on the 7.8 percent of December 2009.
Frank-Jürgen Weise, the head of Germany’s Federal Labour Agency, is happy with the progress made. He told reporters: “A year has come to an end which showed quite a bit better development than we could have hoped for twelve months ago. The German economy recovered comparatively well from the biggest downturn in history.”
Weise predicted that unemployment would continue to drop during 2011.
A corporate survey published this week showed German manufacturers boosted their workforces in December at the fastest rate in at least 14 years in order to increase capacity to meet demand.