German jobless rate rises for ninth month but economy stable
The number of Germans out of work rose for the ninth month running in December but held close to a post-reunification low, adding to signs Europe's largest economy remains relatively unscathed by the region's crisis.
Labour Office data showed the jobless figure rose by 3,000 in seasonally adjusted terms to 2.942 million, much lower than consensus forecasts.
The unemployment rate held steady at 6.9pc.
"Despite the economic dip, the labour market is not suffering a breakdown," said Stefan Schilbe at HSBC Trinkaus. "Companies are not willing to put qualified workers out of a job, also in the light of the high number of unfilled jobs."
"Once the economy improves in the course of the year, unemployment, too, is likely to fall again with a delay."
Germany's economy weathered the three-year eurozone debt crisis well until it slowed in the third quarter of last year. Economists expect it to have contracted in the fourth quarter but generally see it escaping a recession before gradually improving later in 2013.
The country's labour market, meanwhile, remains robust compared with many other European countries, thanks in part to years of wage restraint and structural reforms undertaken in the mid-2000s.
In Spain, for example, 4.8 million people were registered as out of work last month.
Unemployment hit a record 25pc in the third quarter of last year in the eurozone's fourth biggest economy, where a stubborn recession is likely to put more people out of work.
In Germany, many are hoping a jobless rate that appears to have stabilised close to historically low levels will fuel private consumption and drive economic growth at home and via imports in the wider eurozone.