BERLIN – German unemployment fell more than expected in August, official figures showed on Tuesday, as a recovery continues in Europe’s largest economy despite rising COVID-19 figures.
The Labour Office said the number of people out of work fell by 53,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.538 million. A Reuters poll had forecast a fall of 40,000.
““A decline in August is rather unusual. It is remarkable,” Labour Office head Detlef Scheele told journalists at a news conference, adding that unemployment usually rises in summer as companies postpone hiring until after the holidays.
The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate fell to 5.5%, the lowest since March 2020, when Germany entered its first coronavirus lockdown.
The number of employees put on reduced working hours in job protection schemes, also known as Kurzarbeit, also declined, Scheele said, expecting the figure to drop to one million soon, after peaking at around 6 million in April 2020.
Companies have become more active in recruitment in August especially in the electric and mechanical engineering sector, data by the Munich-based Ifo institute showed last week.
Coronavirus cases have been rising in Germany since July, but the number of deaths has fallen with more than half of the population fully vaccinated, pushing the government to stop using the coronavirus infection rate as its yardstick for deciding on restrictions.