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German joblessness unexpectedly rose for the first time in eight months in February, in another sign that the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown is hurting its economy.
The number of people out of work rose by 9,000 in February, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, to 2.75 million, leaving the unemployment rate at 6%.
“Kurzarbeit (shortened working hours) continues to secure employment on a large scale and prevent unemployment,” Labour Office chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement, adding: “Individual sectors are feeling the effects of the lockdown.”
Germany has been in lockdown since November, and measures were tightened in mid-December, as it battles a second wave of the virus. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said new variants of COVID-19 risk a third wave of infections.
According to the German labour agency, new applications for short-time work schemes dropped somewhat in February to 500,000. This is based on estimates and actual data is only available until December 2020. Here, the total number of people in short-time work had increased to 2.39 million, from 2.38m in November and 2.01m in October. In April, it stood at almost 6 million.
Looking ahead, the labour market could mirror the ongoing divergence between the manufacturing and services sector. Recruitment intentions in the manufacturing sector have improved gradually since last summer but are still slightly below the historic average. In the services sector, however, recruitment plans have dropped again since the summer, reflecting the longer-term damage in this sector as well as the impact from the second and ongoing lockdown.
Over in Germany, retail sales fell sharply during the lockdown in January.
Retail spending dropped by 4.5% month-on-month, and was 8.7% lower than a year ago.
These results can be explained by the second COVID-19 lockdown, which led to a partial retail closure starting on 16 December 2020.
Ugly German retail sales numbers. Even with the normal heap of salt required to interpret these data, it looks as if goods spending is now taking it on the chin due to sustained restrictions in non-essential retail and the VAT hike in Jan.
More dreadful retail sales data from Germany
German retail sales M/M (Jan): -4.5% vs -0.3% expected, prior -9.6%
German retail sales tumbled more than expected in January as the Covid-19 lockdown and the withdrawal of a temporary cut in sales tax hit consumer spending in Europe’s largest economy, data showed today. https://t.co/Cuo3q87oci