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Germans Shun Work

German unemployment will continue to be a major political headache for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, as a new study shows that one in four jobless are not even looking for work.


Will the Employment Office soon be empty?

In the past, Germany has been praised for its work ethic. Germans are said to be punctual and produce high-quality products. A country practically destroyed during World War Two was built up again by hard work and dedication from its people. But a new age appears to have dawned on the labor market.

According to a new study presented by the Federal Employment Office and the Labor Ministry, every fourth unemployed person is not seeking a new job. Every fifth jobless is out looking with only mediocre efforts.

But half of those unemployed are greatly committed to finding a new job, the survey of 12 000 people revealed.

Unemployment major issue for upcoming elections

In 2001, unemployment rates successively rose throughout the year, ending at 3.96 million people without work. This poses a major political headache for Chancellor Gerhard Schröder ahead of September's federal elections.

When he took office, he had pledged to cut unemployment to 3.5 million. Now it is hovering just below the politically sensitive four million level.

Labor Minister Walter Riester said unemployed statistics should now be made more transparent by specifically identifying those persons not seeking new jobs.

But analysts claim Riester is simply trying to make the unemployment issue smaller than it really is through such a move. A closer look at the statistics shows that a large part of the 25% not seeking a job is either waiting to retire or feels it is too old to get a new position.

Frustrated job seekers need more help

Employment Office Chief Bernhard Jagoda said his administration would focus more strongly on those jobless searching with mediocre intensity.

He also appealed to companies to be more willing to compromise in hiring policies, and to also consider older unemployed persons.

Jagoda noted that many who had lost their jobs due to staff cutbacks, company closures or bankruptcy were discouraged after unsuccessfully applying for new positions. "So it cannot come as a surprise that after a certain period of time they no longer actively look for a new job," he said.

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