German unemployment rate rises for first time since 2013


Berlin (AFP)

Germany's unemployment figures rose in May for the first time in more than five years, official data showed Wednesday, amid signs of slowing growth in Europe's biggest economy.

Five percent of people were out of work in Germany, up 0.1 percentage points, the Federal Labour Agency said in seasonally adjusted data.

In March and April, the jobless rate was 4.9 percent -- the lowest since reunification in 1990.

May's figures marked the first time Germany's unemployment rate has increased since November 2013 -- when it was up to 6.9 percent.

"The labour market is showing the first effects of the recent somewhat weaker economic development," the labour agency's chief Detlef Scheele said in a statement.

In absolute terms, the number of people unemployed rose by just 7,000 in May to 2,236,000, but the seasonally adjusted increase is 60,000.

Scheele said "companies demands for new employees weakened noticeably at a high level," but he also put the changed figures down to a data adjustment made following a series of checks on people receiving unemployment benefits.

Jobless figures in Germany remain low compared to its eurozone peers despite Berlin halving the economic growth forecast for 2019 to just 0.5 percent.

"Economic development in the first quarter was better than expected," said analyst Martin Mueller of public investment bank KfW.

"However, the leading indicators show that the economic trough has not yet been passed.

"This also applies to the labour market."

Looking to the country's different regions, the unemployment rate for the month remains lowest in the southern states of Bavaria, at 2.7 percent, and Baden-Wuerttemberg at 3.1 percent.

In comparison, the northern city of Bremen posted the national high of 10 percent, while capital Berlin came in second at 7.8, down slightly from 8.1 in April.