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German unemployment drops for fifth straight month

German unemployment has remained at current historic lows despite a massive influx of refugees. Job creation in the debt-laden eurozone also picked up driving down unemployment to its lowest since August 2011.

According to new figures released by the German Labor Agency (BA) on Tuesday, nominal unemployment in Europe's biggest economy dropped by 9,250 to 2.91 million in February. The unemployment rate eased fractionally to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in January.

While Germany's most recent economic indicators suggested that outlook is starting to cloud over, BA said there was not a sign of a "serious downturn" in the labor market. "The German economy was characterized by a moderate uptrend in 2015. The labor market is continuing to develop positively."

In figures adjust for calendar and seasonal variations, the number of people out of work here was even lower in February, coming in at 2.723 million. As unemployment fell for the fifth consecutive month in February, it came in at the lowest level since West and East Germany reunited in 1990 - one year after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Falling unemployment and rising wages have supported steady German growth for the past few years, with solid household spending helping to offset the impact of slowing foreign demand for exports.

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German economists predict benefit from migrant influx

Refugee unemployment growing

However, the massive influx of more than a million refugees over the last year is beginning to show itself in Germany's unemployment statistics.

Last month, a total of 103,000 foreigners were officially registered as unemployed - a rise by 68 percent compared with the same month a year ago. BA executive Raimund Becker told journalists that the Labor Agency was expecting foreigner joblessness to rise further in the second quarter of the year, adding that a "much stronger increase" was expected in the third and fourth quarters of 2016.

Becker noted, however, that the agency was well prepared for the onrush of job-seeking refugees as it had hired additional staff that was especially trained to cater for their professional needs.

Eurozone job motor accelerating

Meanwhile, the job situation in the 19-nation eurozone is also beginning to ease as unemployment dropped to its lowest since August 2011.

The EU statistics office, Eurostat, said Tuesday that the jobless rate in the eurozone fell to 10.3 percent in January from 10.4 percent in the previous month of December 2015. As eurozone economies added 105,000 jobs in the course of the month, some 16.65 million people were officially registered as unemployed

Using the standard of the Internal Labor Organization (ILO), Eurostat calculated an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent for Germany - the lowest in the eurozone - and the highest in Greece, with 24.6 percent.

In the wider, 28-country European Union, joblessness stood at 8.9 percent in January, with 21.8 million people out of work, Eurostat added.

uhe/cjc (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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