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German joblessness jumps in May on cold weather

THE number of Germans out of work jumped more than forecast in May on a seasonally adjusted basis due partly to bad weather but the unemployment rate remained close to its lowest level since Germany reunited more than two decades ago.

Labour Office data showed the number of people out of work increased by some 21,000 to 2.963 million in April, well above the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll for a rise of 5,000 and overshooting even the highest estimate for an extra 10,000 people out of work.

However, the jobless rate stayed close to a reunification low of 6.9pc, in line with the consensus in a Reuters poll of 33 economists.

"The weak spring revival of the labour market can also be explained by the relatively high number of public holidays in May and the still cold weather," said Carsten Brzeski, senior economist at ING.

"Therefore, it is far too premature to start singing swan songs for the labour market," he added.

Last week a flash purchasing managers' survey showed staffing levels fell across the private sector in May for the first time since January.

Major German companies are slashing jobs, with steel distributor Kloeckner & Co increasing planned job cuts to more than 2,000, or 17pc of the workforce, and chemical maker BASF planning to cut 500 jobs by 2015.