German Unemployment Up Slightly in April

Unemployment in Germany rose in April as companies become more cautious about hiring in face of the slowing economy, but the labour market nevertheless remains robust, official data showed on Tuesday.

On the face of it, headline unemployment fell this month, but that was due to seasonal factors, monthly data compiled by the Federal Labour Office showed.

The raw or unadjusted jobless total fell by 77,541 to 3.02 million and the jobless rate — which measures the number of unemployed as a proportion of the working population as a whole — slipped to 7.1 percent in April from 7.3 percent in March.

Nevertheless, the seasonally-adjusted jobless total – which irons out seasonal fluctuations – rose by 4,000 to 2.938 million, the agency said, slightly faster than analysts’ expectations.

The seasonally-adjusted jobless rate was unchanged at 6.9 percent.

“The labour market is fundamentally sound,” said labour agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise.

“Despite a weakening of the economic momentum, employment has risen again. The spring upturn led to a drop in unemployment in April, but it was a smaller drop than is usual at this time of year,” Weise said.

“Although the German unemployment rate remains close to its record low since German unification, the recent sluggishness in the economy appears to be starting to have its negative effects on the labour market,” said Newedge Strategy analyst Annalisa Piazza.

Economic confidence in Europe’s biggest economy — which has fared much better in the long-running debt crisis than its neighbours — is deteriorating, according to a wide range of recent survey data.

And that means companies’ hiring plans for the next three months “have moderated as companies are more cautious,” Piazza said.