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German Press Review: The Job Market Limps Along

The long-awaited and forever promised economic revival in Germany is a major topic in the nation’s newspapers this Wednesday. Unfortunately, most editors conclude, modest growth isn't enough to create new jobs.

German unemployment fell unexpectedly in June in a move that the country's economics minister said suggested companies had stopped laying off workers. The number out of work fell by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 4.37 million, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 10.5 percent. Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement said he did not expect any discernible pick-up in the labor market until the first half of next year.

As regards any upcoming upswing in the state of economic affairs in Germany, the Leipziger Volkszeitung questioned: "Is it coming or not, the longed for rebound?" The paper said the good news was that we’ve already hit rock bottom, but the bad news is that any recovery is going to be a drawn-out and painful process. "The weight around our necks," according to the newspaper, "is unemployment." However, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claimed that this minimal improvement was simply not enough to trigger a cyclical increase.

The Berliner Morgenpost wrote: "We’ve waited long enough for the promised upturn, and now it’s really meant to come?" Meanwhile, the Berliner Zeitung claimed that, "the economic pick-up is still too weak to help provide for a revival of the labor market." According to the paper, "Economists say that growth of at least two percent or even three percent is needed in order to create new jobs." It went on to say that consumer confidence is what’s needed to turn things around. The mass-circulation Bild newspaper wrote that a successful reform package is going to be the only thing that gets Germans buying again. And only further reforms are going to encourage investors to create more jobs for Germany.

The Märkische Allgemeine reminded its readers that German Economics Minister Wolfgang Clement said a year ago that the coalition’s reforms would start having their effect on the labor market. The newspaper wrote: "The only thing that has worked is the change in the way the jobless figure is calculated, hiding the fact that unemployment has increased every month since January."

The Nürnberger Nachrichten put the blame on the trade unions. It said, "They fought for a reduction in the working week for years, and yet now the experts say that the 35-hour week hasn’t boosted employment at all. On the contrary, it has meant an even further deepening of the abyss that the German labor market has fallen into."

"It’s frustrating," the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung wrote. "The economic cycle continues its upward trend, whereas this is having no effect whatsoever on the jobless rate." The paper added that "even the latest figures provide little hope: a reversal of the economic trend is still not in sight." The paper's editors concluded that Germans need to concentrate on producing and providing more innovative and high-quality goods and services, which is the key to prosperity.

  • Date 07.07.2004
  • Author DW-RADIO
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/5HDT
  • Date 07.07.2004
  • Author DW-RADIO
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/5HDT