More than 5.2 million Germans were out of work in February, new figures show. The figure of 5.216 million people, or 12.6% of the working-age population, is the highest jobless rate in Europe’s biggest economy since the 1930s.
Earlier the government had forecasted 1.4% growth for 2005, but the actual figure turned out to be 1%. You know times are bad when forecasts of 1.4% growth are too optimistic.
The growth warning triggered anger even from government supporters, who said the Social Democrat-Green administration of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder had to do more. “We are not going to create more jobs with growth of 1%,” Harald Schartau, head of the Social Democrats in the northern state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told ZDF television … The German government insists its efforts to tackle the stubbornly-high levels of joblessness with a range of labour market reforms are only just getting under way. The core is the “Hartz-IV” programme introduced in January to shake up welfare benefits and push people back into work – even if some of the jobs are heavily subsidised. According to the Federal Labour Office, the changes have contributed to the rise in the official unemployment rate.