Winter freeze sends German jobless figures back above three million
A freezing start to the winter pushed unemployment in Germany back above three million in December, but Europe's biggest economy still ended 2010 with far fewer people out of work than at the start of the year, official figures showed yesterday.
The Federal Labour Agency revealed that 85,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed in December, taking the total out of work to 3.016 million -- it only fell below that level in October for the first time in two years. The increase was largely attributed to the early onset of freezing temperatures and snow.
December's increase raised the jobless rate by 0.2 percentage points to 7.2pc. Despite the December increase, unemployment is still 260,000 lower than in the same month of 2009.
And over the year, 3.244 million Germans registered for unemployment benefits, 179,000 fewer than in 2009.
"The December numbers bring to an end a year that exceeded even the most audacious expectations," Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen said. "Nearly all experts predicted a sharp rise in the number of unemployed."
The German economy rebounded strongly in 2010 as increasing exports in a recovering global economy have been accompanied by signs of improving domestic demand.
Business confidence ended 2010 on a high, in contrast to many economists' expectations.
German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle welcomed the 2010 jobless numbers as proof of solid growth.
Not all predictions are so rosy, though. Analysts at the DIW economic institute have a more conservative prediction of 2.2pc growth for 2011, insisting that the past year was an exception that would not quickly be repeated.