Germany suffered its biggest rise in unemployment since the onset of the global economic crisis with the jobless total for March rising for a fifth straight month.
Germany is experiencing a sense of deja-vu as jobless numbers climb again
The number of Germans without a job rose by 34,000 in March, according to seasonally unadjusted figures released by the country's Labor Office. That brings the jobless total to 8.6 percent of the population.
March is traditionally a time that sees a drop in the number of unemployed compared to the previous month, as construction work, for example, gets underway in the spring. Not this time around.
Gloomy spring time in Germany
In a mark of the severity of the downturn, the March 2009 figures topped February's for the first time since World War Two, the Labor Office said.
The announcement of the increase comes on the same day that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) prophesied that Germany's unemployment rate would reach the five million mark by 2010.
Germany's car workers particularly fear for their jobs
A slump in global demand for manufactured goods is hitting Germany's export-driven industry hard and the OECD said it expected the economy to shrink by some 5.3 percent this year. This would make it the second worst hit world economy after Japan.
The organization, which aims to help governments tackle the economic, social and governmental challenges of globalization, is calling upon Angela Merkel's coalition to launch an additional multibillion euro stimulus package. Merkel has rejected this option.
"The German economy will be among the worst affected by the slump in world trade," OECD chief economist Klaus Schmidt-Hebbel said on Tuesday. "Because of sharply climbing unemployment, additional measures should primarily aim to get jobless people back to work."