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Jobs

Weak December employment fails to put damper on 2012

Germany's Federal Employment Agency says the job market continues to show signs of weakness. Tens of thousands more have been without a job recently but overall figures for 2012 were strong.

Joblessness in Germany rose for a ninth consecutive month in December, the Federal Employment Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. It said 88,000 people more were out of work in the last month of 2012, compared to levels reached in November.

The agency said in a year-on-year comparison, there was an increase of 60,000 unemployed people in the country in December, bringing the total to 2.84 million.

"The labor market remained robust towards the end of last year despite negative cyclical developments, but of course they left some traces," BA chief Frank-Jürgen Weise commented.

"The figures reflect companies' general reluctance at the moment to hire new staff," Commerzbank Chief Economist Eckart Tuchtfeld told the DPA news agency. Yet many analysts insisted the rise in unemployment towards the end of the year was only moderate.

Encouraging 2012

"Although demand for labor has dropped markedly, developments have not yet really impacted jobless figures in a dramatic way," said Steffen Henzel from the Munich-based economic think tank Ifo.

Looking at the data available for the whole of 2012, the labor market situation in Germany was relatively positive, with the average number of unemployed people sinking by 79,000 to total 2.897 million people.

The jobless rate thus dropped to 6.8 percent - its lowest level since the boom year of 1991 shortly after German unification. Back then, only 2.6 million people were looking for a job.

hg/pfd (dpa, dapd, Reuters)