German unemployment falls, workforce gears up to absorb refugees

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Berlin (dpa) – German unemployment fell more than expected in October, data released Thursday showed, as Europe’s biggest economy gears up to absorb a mass influx of refugees into the country.

Seasonally adjusted unemployment fell by 5,000 this month after posting a surprise gain of 2,000 in September, the labour office said.

Economists surveyed by dpa-AFX had expected the number of those out of work to fall by 4,000 in October.

“The strong growth in employment is uninterrupted,” said labour office chief Frank-Juergen Weise. “The demand for labour has also risen again.”

The jobless rate held steady at 6.4 per cent, its lowest level since German unification in 1990.

However, Weise expects unemployment to rise next year as Germany attempts to find work for the asylum seekers who are flooding into the country in their thousands each day.

The release of the jobless data also came a day after the Nuremberg-based labour office published an indicator showing job vacancies hitting a record high in October.

The labour office’s monthly job vacancy index hit a reading of 202 in October – five percentage points higher than in September.

The number of job vacancies in the country stood at 612,000 in October – 95,000 more than in the same month last year, the labour office said.

In particular, it said Germany has a shortage of skilled workers in fields such as transport, logistics, metal work and engineering.

Officially Germany expects 800,000 refugees to enter the country this year, although the number is likely to top 1 million.

The government hopes that the newcomers will help to fill the gaps in the labour market.

However, analysts say the level of skills of many of the refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa, remains unclear.

The drop in unemployment will also add to hopes that the German economy is managing to ride out any fallout from the slowdown in the world’s major emerging markets, such as China, Brazil and Russia.

In seasonally unadjusted terms, unemployment fell 59,000 during October to 2.649 million. That was 83,000 less than in September last year.

The unadjusted monthly unemployment rate edged down to 6 per cent this month from 6.2 per cent in September, the office said.

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