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Germany

Germany Hopes to Halve Unemployment

German Economics and Labor Minister Wolfgang Clement believes unemployment in the euro zone's biggest economy could be more than halved by 2010 if global economic conditions permit, he said in a newspaper interview published Tuesday. "Assuming the global economy develops more or less reasonably, we could achieve full employment, with a basic level of unemployment of between three and five percent," Clement told the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. Halving unemployment by 2010 was a "realistic" goal, he insisted. In November, the German jobless total stood at 10.3 percent and the number of people claiming welfare support is expected to rise to around 4.43 million in December. Clement said the government's labor market reforms, dubbed "Hartz IV," due to come into effect on Jan. 1, should help reduce jobless numbers significantly. The aim of the reforms was " to achieve the turnaround and to bring down unemployment sharply," he said.

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