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Less New Companies in 2002

The number of economically significant companies founded in Germany has dropped to an all-time low, according to recent data. 131 000 companies were founded last year, according to the Federal Statistics Office, the lowest number since 1996. Trade registration in 2001 dropped by 1.3 percent from the same period in the previous year. However, the number of new, small firms rose, from 400 000 in 2001, to 405 000 in 2002 and is expected to rise in 2003 due to a new law -- part of the government's labor reforms -- which supports founders of new businesses.