UNEMPLOYMENT in Germany has fallen to an 18-year low and to less than three million for the first time in two years, figures confirmed yesterday.
The statistics emphasise the impressive speed with which Germany's economy, the biggest in Europe, has pulled out of recession.
The Federal Labour Agency said that the number of unemployed had fallen by 86,000 this month to 2.95m. That was the lowest level since October 1992 and the first time since November 2008 that the figure had fallen below the politically sensitive three-million mark.
It means the unemployment rate in Germany, which stood at 12.6pc as recently as 2005, has fallen from 7.2pc in September to 7pc.
The figures contrast sharply with those in some other countries in the eurozone, where the overall official jobless rate remained stuck at 10.1pc in August, the highest in more than 12 years. France, the eurozone's second-biggest economy, also had an unemployment rate for August of 10.1pc.
Official publication of the figures came a day after they were leaked by Ursula von der Leyen, Germany's Minister for Labour, to mark the first anniversary in office of the country's centre-right coalition Government, led by Angela Merkel.
Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING Bank, said: "For Germany, three million unemployed is an important psychological threshold. The fact that the government claimed the news yesterday, prior to the official statistical release, illustrates not only the economic but also the political importance."
The government expects the economy to grow by 3.4 per cent this year.