Germany looks for work

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.

Read the whole article here. And, on a related note, check out Adrian’s earlier post on why the German economy has a tough time reaping the benefits of outsourcing.