Weather pushes German jobless total up

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Weather pushes German jobless total up

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German unemployment unexpectedly climbed in March, according to figures adjusted for seasonal factors.

The number of people out of work increased by 13,000 to 2.935 million.

However the Federal Labour Office said that was due to bad winter weather and the unemployment rate held steady at 6.9 percent of the workforce, where it has been since October 2012.

“The economic conditions of the last few months are having little impact on the German labour market, which remains solid,” Labour Office chief Frank-Juergen Weise said in a statement.

The unadjusted jobless total, which is the headline number used in Germany, remained above the three million mark for a third straight month.

The jobs numbers should work in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s favour as she courts votes ahead of an election in September.

Combined with data released earlier on Thursday showing retail sales rose unexpectedly for a second straight month in February, the unemployment figures bode well for domestic demand, which economic advisers to the German government expect to drive growth in Europe’s largest economy this year.

“The small rise (in unemployment) is not dramatic. The hard winter is certainly playing a part,” said Thilo Heidrich, an economist at Postbank.

While some big German companies like Commerzbank, Deutsche Telekom and Air Berlin are cutting jobs, thousands of workers are benefiting from strong wage hikes. Regional public sector employees have achieved a 5.6 percent raise over two years and some iron and steel workers have secured a 3.0 percent hike over 15 months.